Pet Wills: Key Facts to Know!

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Though it may be hard to think about, it’s a good idea to create a trust for your pet in the event that you can’t take care of them yourself because of illness, accident or death. Here are some steps that outline how to create a pet will or trust. A trust is preferable to a will, according to AARP. It takes less time to draw up than a will and can be set up to go into effect before your death. Trusts allow money to be available for your pet’s maintenance. Money can’t be left to a pet in a will because a pet can’t own property, and a will can be contested. In a trust, the money is handled by a trustee of your choice. One drawback is that pet trusts aren’t recognized in all 50 states.

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A power of attorney, or POA, gives an agent the right to use money in a trust to care for your pet if you are incapacitated. The POA is terminated when you die, says Patch. A POA can be downloaded from the internet, notes Peace of Mind Pet Trust. It just needs to be signed by you, the agent and a witness, and then notarized. The agent and trustee may or may not be the same person, and a lawyer doesn’t need to be present.

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Pet trusts should be set up while you’re still of sound mind and body. Name at least two people, usually friends or relatives, who are willing and able to take care of your pet or pets, according to Petfinder. These people should be given keys to your home and pertinent information such as the name of the vet and your pet’s daily routine. Tell others, including neighbors, friends and relatives, how many pets you have and give them the caregivers’ contact information.

Make sure you carry an alert card that names your pet’s caregivers and has their contact information, and place removable stickers with information about your pet on the doors and windows of your home. It’s important that the stickers be removable to prevent first responders from searching for pets that no longer live with you. Part of careful estate planning is to make arrangements for your pets when you can no longer care for them. The arrangements should be put in writing in a pet trust, a will or a power of attorney document. Though it’s a bit unusual, some people even donate their pets to institutions such as nursing homes. Click here to read about the kitty Miss Sugar and the human companions that took over her care after the death of her first family.

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