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Protecting pets within estate planning

All across Pennsylvania, there are families that include beloved pets. Pet care has become a huge industry within the United States, and virtually every large city or town has a range of retail stores dedicated to providing pet supplies and services. While many people have a great deal of love for their pets, very few consider how to include these family members within the estate planning process.

While it is possible to establish a trust to provide a means of caring for a pet after an owner's death, this step is rarely necessary. A more common solution lies in simply compiling a list of documents related to one's pets, and ensuring that a trusted friend or family member is chosen to assume care of those animals in the event of the owner's death. Doing so can ensure an easier transition for pets if that need should arise.

When a pet loses an owner, the animals can experience a high level of stress. That can lead to a number of troubling behaviors that can be interpreted by an individual who does not know the pet as aggressive. It is important that the person chosen to care for one's pets is aware of their preferences, temperament and quirks, and is willing to give the animal time to adjust to the change in living arrangements.

Pet owners should also create a file that contains all of the medical information related to a beloved pet. The new owner may not be able to maintain the same veterinarian, trainer or kennel arrangements, but having this information in writing can help ensure that medical records are passed on to the new service providers. This includes a list of any medications and preventative treatment that a pet has been given.

When creating an estate planning package, Pennsylvania residents should consider addressing the needs of their pets within that process. With just a small degree of effort, a plan can be put into place that can greatly assist both the pets and one's loved ones in the event of a death. In many ways, this is just one more step toward caring for the animals that add so much to our daily lives.

Source: seattlepi.com, "Pet Estate Planning: Six Things You Need to Do To Protect Your Pet", Diane Rich, July 22, 2015

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