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Estate planning and pets

Pet owners in California know that their animals have unique personalities and needs. It’s not uncommon to recognize a pet in estate planning documents. After all, you want to make sure that your beloved dog or cat ends up being cared for by the right person if anything happens to you.

Pets can’t be direct beneficiaries

Despite their intelligence, pets obviously can’t actually open up their own bank accounts or sign documents. Therefore, you can’t name your pet as a direct beneficiary of your life insurance policy. However, you can take other steps to make sure that your pet’s caregiver has the means to buy your pet its favorite kibble.

Name a caregiver for your pet

Just like you would name a caregiver for minor children, you should name a caregiver for your pet in your will. The caregiver should be someone that you know has the time and the ability to provide your pet with proper care. You can provide written instructions for your pet’s care to the caregiver so that they understand their duties.

The person who is best suited to take care of your pet may not have the financial means to do so. That’s why it may be a good idea to name your pet’s caregiver as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy. You can also provide instructions in your estate planning documents that make it clear how you would like the money to be used.

Set up a trust for your pet

If you want to provide your pet with more security, you may want to consider setting up a trust fund that is funded by your life insurance policy. That way, any funds that you are leaving for your pet’s care will be subject to stricter rules. If anything happens to your pet’s caregiver, the trust may still be used to fund your pet’s care with the next one.

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