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Including Your Pets in Your Estate Plan: How to Protect Your Furry Family Members

Andrea Shoup

Most pet owners will agree: pets are more than just an animal in the house – they are a furry member of the family. When you have a pet, it makes sense that you want to ensure their comfort if something happens and you are unable to take care of them. But many people don’t think to include pets in their estate plan.

Even though pets have shorter lifespans than humans, it’s possible for a pet to survive after their owner passes away. The good news is that there are legal options to ensure that your pet is taken care of after you are gone. Consider a few different options if you would like to include your pets in your estate plan:

Choose a Pet Guardian/Trustee

The simplest solution is to choose a guardian for your pet, and this guardianship can be listed in your will. If something happens to you, then the named guardian will take custody of the pet. It’s a good idea to talk to the person in advance and let them know that you are listing them as the pet’s guardian in your will. If fact, California law requires that a pet trustee consents to any caretaking arrangement that you choose. 

Create A Pet Trust 

One thing that is unique about the state of California is that it’s one of the few states that has a probate code for including pets in estate planning. This trust can be designed to ensure your pet receives proper nourishment and care for the remainder of their life.

Comprehensive Pet Trust

There are a variety of things that should be considered to ensure that your pet’s needs are taken care of:

  • Specific care instructions for this type of animal
  • The age and expected lifespan of the pet
  • Anticipated costs for everything, including food, accommodations, etc.
  • Expenses for veterinary visits, including emergency services for care, surgery, and medication as needed

Not only will you choose a guardian or trustee that will love and care for your pet, but your trust can also provide the money the person will need to take care of them.

Legal Advice for Including Pets in Your Estate Plan

If you have a pet and want to include your furry family member in your estate plan, give us a call. Shoup Legal is here to help. Contact us at (951) 455-4114 or email at info@shouplegal.com.

Written by Andrea Shoup

Shoup Legal, A Professional Law Corporation can be reached at (951) 445-4114.

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