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PLANNING FOR PETS

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In addition to tangible property, one’s estate and disability plan can also include instructions for how their pets are to be taken care of if they pass away or become disabled. The pet owner’s durable power of attorney can specify that during the owner’s incapacity, the agent named in the durable power of attorney is authorized to pay the bills required for the care of the pets. The durable power of attorney can also specify the type of care that the pets shall receive. The bills that are usually authorized include paying for the pets’ regular exercise, grooming, veterinary care, and special dietary needs, if any.

The disability documents may also specify that it is his or her intention to keep the household pets at home with the owner as long as it is medically advisable. If a revocable trust has been established, a successor trustee can be directed to pay for the pets’ regular exercise and medical care if the owner is no longer able to provide this care. The successor trustee can also be authorized to pay family members or friends for their time spent attending to the pets. If family members are not available to care for the pets, the successor trustee may also be authorized to employ pet care in order to ensure the pets’ regular exercise and companionship. An example of this might be a pet sitter that comes to the house to walk a dog and take care of the cat. The trust may also state which veterinary clinic the animals normally visit, and direct that these animals should continue to be cared for by this clinic.

If a person is forced to leave their home because of a medical condition, their disability documents may specify that the healthcare surrogate select an assisted living facility that permits the pets to stay with the owner. If this is not possible, regular visits with the pets can be arranged. These types of arrangements only apply to household pets such as dogs, cats, or birds. Unusual pets or barnyard animals are not included in this type of care plan.

Now, we have been talking about what will happen to one’s pets if he or she became disabled or unable to care for them. However, if a pet owner dies, it is up to the person’s last will and testament to determine who will take ownership of their pets after their death. The will or revocable trust can name a person to take the pets, as well as give them an allotment of assets sufficient enough to pay for the pets’ care throughout their natural lifetime. Of course, without a trust fund being set up specifically to provide funds for pet care, there is no way to ensure that the money given to the beneficiary of the pets will be used for the pets’ care.

The creator of the will or trust can also include a provision that says if the person named to receive the pets and the subsequent funds to care for the pets is unable or unwilling to give the animals the proper care, then the gift of the animals and the money is void. In this case, the executor will arrange a suitable home for the pets, along with the money that has been allocated for the care of the animals.

Another possible option is to prepay any veterinary expenses for the animal by way of a contract with the animals vet. In this case, you would establish a contract for the life long care of the animal with either a veterinarian or a dog care manager. One may also contract with a charitable organization that will agree to care for the animal in exchange for a cash donation to the charity.

The Florida legislature has approved legislation allowing for the establishment of a trust for the care of a deceased person’s pets. According to the legislation, a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal over its lifetime. The trust will terminate upon the death of the last surviving animal. Unless otherwise specified in the trust document, the Florida statutes regarding the administration of a trust will also apply to a trust for the care of an animal.

The property of a pet trust must be applied only to its intended use for the animals. However, a judge may determine whether the value of the trust property is greater than the amount required for the expected cost of the animal’s care. In this case, any property of the pet trust that is not needed for it’s intended use, and any property left in the trust after the pet’s death, shall be distributed as directed to the ultimate beneficiaries named in the trust.