Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Planning your estate for pets

Tampa Bay online ran a good article on Florida Pet trust laws and the need to plan for pet care in your estate. Without this type of planning, companion animals can end up in shelters when something happens to their guardians. The article links to the SPCA Tampa Bay, which offers "The Pet Owner's Guide to Estate Planning for Pets," according to the article. Whiel you should ask your lawyer about the proper way to implement an animal trust, the article also includes a checklist for pet estate planning:

CHECKLIST FOR PET PLANNING

•Identify and designate someone to assume ownership and care of your pets. Choose an alternate caretaker as well.

•Stay in touch. Make sure this person continues to be willing to honor this commitment, especially if your pet has special needs.

•Provide sufficient funds to care for your pet. Authorize payments for the care of pets and specify that you are willing to pay for food, water, veterinary care, grooming, exercise, socialization, etc.

•Specifically authorize payments to family members, friends, professional pet sitters and veterinary clinics for their help in caring for your pet.

•Empower your personal representative (executor) to make these arrangements in the event that the original provisions cannot be honored.

•Use language that refers to your "pets" instead of their names. That way no one will be left out if you get a new pet and your documents are not up-to-date.

•Use the SPCA pet profiles to establish a standard of care that you can refer to in your document. These profiles also provide valuable guidance on how to care for your pet in an emergency.

•Name a trust protector to oversee your pet's new owner and the funds you have set aside for your pet's care.

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