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Including pets in wills

Pets are valued members of many families across the country. In fact, there are many people living in Massachusetts, as well as many other states, who are including their pets in their wills. There are cases where owners have left thousands or even millions of dollars to their pets specifically for their care. This money is often used to pay for food, grooming and veterinary care. 

Some of the first steps that many pet owners take are to name a caretaker for the animal and to set up a trust for the caretaker to draw funds from while he or she is caring for the pet. However, owners may be concerned that the funds will not be used to care for the animal as intended. Others fear that the pet will simply be replaced with a similar looking pet after the original has died as a way to retain access to the money.

One way that owners can ensure that the pet is being cared for properly is to set up an "animal care panel." This panel is typically made up of veterinarians and other animal care professionals who can perform scheduled checkups on the animal or animals to ensure that they are healthy and properly cared for. Owners can also have their pets micro-chipped as a way to identify the pet. The chip provides veterinary professionals with a unique identification number so that the pet cannot be replaced by a look-alike after the animal passes away. 

Animals provide many people with companionship, comfort and sometimes protection. Because of the unconditional love and affection given by their pets, many pet owners wish to ensure that their animals are cared for even after their owners die. Massachusetts pet owners who wish to learn more about how their animals can be included in their wills could benefit from speaking with an attorney. 

Source: bic.financial-planning.com, "$61,000 for a parrot? Estate planning for pets", Margarida Correia, March 26, 2018

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