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Have pets? Here's how to keep them safe after an injury or death

You love your pets, and you can't imagine a life without them. What would happen if you could no longer take care of them? Would they be adopted by a friend or family member? How would they get the care they need?

If this is something that concerns you, one option is to open a pet trust. Your attorney has information on this kind of trust, which focuses solely on the life your pet will have if you fall ill or pass away.

A pet trust has three main benefits.

1. Someone is appointed to take on your pet's care

With a pet trust, you appoint one or two people to care for your pet. For example, you may state that your sister will care for your dog if you pass away or cannot care for him due to illness, and if she cannot, then your brother has stated he will take care of the pet. This sets up a line of people legally bound to care for your pet, so you are secure in the knowledge that he will receive all the medical and emotional support he needs after you pass away.

2. The trust has funds and assets

One benefit of a trust is that you can add funds and assets to it. You can add assets such as dog beds and food supplies, or you can add funds to cover medical expenses or other needs for your pet.

It's normal to include a certain amount of money for the person caring for the pet as a kind of payment for doing so. Usually, those funds are protected. That means that the individual has to follow the rules of the trust to take out those funds.

Here's one way you could do it. If you want to have your dog cared for over the next 10 years until he's old and passes away, you could choose to add $500 to $1,000 a year for the person caring for him. To get that money, the individual has to submit vet paperwork to show that the dog has received its annual visit to the vet and any medical care it needed.

3. The trust is legally enforceable

Whatever you dictate in a trust is normally enforceable by law. Do you want your dog to have one walk a day and to be fed twice a day? That's legally binding if it's in the trust. Do you want to make sure he has dental work done yearly? Add it to the trust and the law can enforce this care.

These are a few things to consider if you have a pet. Prepare now and you'll know your pet will always be cared for.

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