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Protecting pets with estate planning

Most households in Wisconsin have a pet, but few people think about what would happen to their animals if they suddenly passed away. Even though most people live far longer than dogs, cats and other domestic animals, planning for the future of a pet in case of the unexpected shows true compassion. By putting provisions for pets in a living trust, animals will get the care they need in both the short and the long-term.

A pet trust is the ideal legal tool for animal owners who want to ensure their pet is well cared for in the future. This trust, which can be separate or part of an existing trust, can include the name of a new caretaker and instructions for care. The trust will include funds that will be used for the sole purpose of feeding, housing and meeting the medical needs of the animal.

The Durable Power of Attorney for Pet Care allows a pet owner to name a person who can seek medical care for their animals and make other decisions regarding a pet's well-being. It's also a good idea for pet owners to have a card in their wallet that instructs emergency responders to contact someone who can take care of their animals in case of an accident.

Animal owners who want to ensure that their pet is accounted for in their wills or trusts should consult with an estate planning attorney. A lawyer can help his or her clients establish goals, including naming new owners and providing instructions for care, and create legal documents that have the best chance of fulfilling those goals. An attorney can also make amendments to pet trusts in case circumstances change.

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