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Estate planning in Florida can include one's pets

Over 90 percent of pet owners feel that their pets are members of the family. They dress them up, share their beds with them and pose with them in family portraits. Some pet owners even create social media pages for their pets or take them to visit Santa Claus. Nevertheless, each year, many pets in Florida are given up to shelters or abandoned altogether when their owners die. In recent years, many pet owners have begun including their pets in their estate planning.

Some exotic birds can live 50 to 80 years. If a person acquires the bird as an adult, there is a good chance the bird will outlive its owner. Dogs and cats often live for decades, and when their owners die, the pets may be in their senior years themselves and require some special attention. This is why people who want to be assured of their pets' well-being provide for them through pet trusts.

A trust names a guardian and can provide funds for the guardian to use toward the care and needs of the animal. A trust can also be enacted if the pet owner becomes too ill or infirm to care for the animal. One important benefit of the trust is that it bypasses probate, which means the animal will more quickly be transferred to its new guardian instead of waiting months for the owner's assets to be distributed.

Creating a pet trust benefits one's pet as well as the new guardian. Although they are accepted in Florida and all other states, they must be carefully prepared to be considered valid by a court. To ensure their wishes for their pets are known and respected, many turn to an experienced estate planning attorney for help in preparing for the future.

Source: birdchannel.com, "Long-lived Birds: 7 Easy Dos and Don'ts for Planning for the Future", Margaret Maffai, Accessed on Jan. 7, 2017

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