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When estate planning, remember to include your pet

Many people in Minnesota might put off estate planning because the topic is not an easy one to consider. However, it may be especially important for people who have a special bond with a pet to have up-to-date estate plans. In the event that a pet owner passes away before a pet, an estate plan could help ensure their dog, cat or other animal companion is taken care of.

To safeguar­­­­d a pet's future, it's important to consider short-term and long-term plans should one pass away or become incapacitated. While provisions might be placed in a will, this likely is not enough because wills take time to process. Creating or adding to a trust may be a good idea as pet owners can set terms and provide funds for a pet's needs.

Trusts can include pet care instructions. This information can include a pet's routine, likes and dislikes, vet contact information, food requirements and more. Pet instructions work best as a separate document that can be added to a trust later. This allows one to make changes without updating the whole trust.

A pet owner may wish to put a card in a wallet or information in a phone about their pets. Provisions like this ideally make it easier for the appropriate people to act quickly if an unexpected event occurs. This should prevent a pet from being unattended to for days. Similarly, one might need a Durable Power of Attorney for Pet Care in addition to a regular Durable Power of Attorney.

Wills, trusts and other estate planning tools may need review and revision as time passes. Updates may be required as minor children grow up or if a divorce occurs. To ensure that any modifications are legally enforceable, one may wish to contact an attorney.

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