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Fluffy, Fido and Mittens are increasingly more than just furry, four-legged animals — they are part of the family. Animals hold a special place in their owners’ hearts and yet are often left out of the entire estate planning process. Ensuring the continued care of a beloved animal can be a relatively straightforward task that can have disastrous outcomes when avoided.

Many people in California assume that, after their death, a family member or close friend will take over the ownership of an animal. While this might be a nice thought, it is not necessarily realistic. In the absence of any clear instructions on what to do with a pet, a beloved pet might be fought over by multiple people or, perhaps even worse, simply dumped at the nearest animal shelter without a second thought.

Pet trusts are extremely effective at avoiding both of those outcomes. The trust can designate who should take over ownership while also providing the financial means to do so. It is usually a good idea to first discuss this with the person intended to care for the animal so as to ensure that he or she has similar ideas and values when it comes to being a pet owner. Additional information — such as veterinary records — are often included.

It might be difficult to explain exactly how animals have become such an integral part of our families, but it is certainly not difficult to make sure that they are cared for in even the most dire of situations. At our California firm, we understand the deep bond shared with our four-legged friends and have helped numerous clients include pet trusts in their estate planning strategies. Need more information about pet trusts and how they can protect your animal? Be sure to visit here for more information.