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Including pets in wills

The family pet is, for many Massachusetts families, more than just a companion or living possession; these animals are members of the family. However, many owners are unsure of how to ensure that their beloved pets are taken care of after they are gone. Bequeathing money directly to a pet can often be problematic, but there are ways for pet owners to construct their wills in a way that protects and ensures the care of their pets.

Naming a caretaker is one of the steps that owners can take to ensure that their pets are cared for. This, in combination with the creation of a pet trust, can help to provide a proper home and care for many years after the animal's owner passes away. A trust can provide funds for the caretaker to draw from in order to pay for the animal's care. This might include vet care, grooming, food and supplies, daycare, or training expenses when needed. Setting up a trust can also help the owner to dictate how the funds are to be used.

A few owners wish to leave their pets truly extravagant amounts of money. In some cases, owners have been known to leave not only money but also entire homes to their pets. These owners sometimes leave an amount of money to the caretakers in addition to setting up a pet trust or similar account. Sometimes, caretakers are even asked to live in a deceased person's home with the pet or pets. Others may leave instructions in their wills to pay the appointed caretaker of the pet a certain amount of money per year for as long as the animal is alive. 

There are a wide variety of options available to people who wish to include their pets in their wills. Speaking with an attorney familiar with estate planning procedures could help many Massachusetts residents to decide which of these options are right for their individual situations. An attorney may also be able to help his or her clients to alter an existing will to include a new pet or to appoint a new caretaker. 

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