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Estate planning from a pet care perspective

Illinois pet owners may want to consider designating someone to step in and care for their beloved fur companions if they die or become incapacitated. The estate planning process is a great tool to help pet owners ensure that the needs of their dogs, cats or other pets will be met when they are no longer there to do care for the animals themselves. Certain things should be taken into consideration when incorporating pet instructions into an estate plan.

Firstly, while a particular item may have great sentimental value to a pet owner, such as the first chew toy ever purchased for a puppy or a customized feeding bowl, it doesn't mean the item holds true asset value. An official appraisal can clarify whether a specific item can be listed as an asset or whether it is best left out of a plan altogether. Also, it's crucial to choose a pet care provider who is willing and prepared to take on the responsibility.

As with any estate planning decision, it is always best to discuss the matter with the intended party before signing any official document. Pet care would create an added expense, especially if the person stepping in is not already a pet owner. To help offset such costs, many estate owners set aside funds for the new pet owner as well. In fact, many estate owners use revocable living trusts to make this happen, especially those with large animals such as horses.

An estate plan can be customized and may include separate instructions for different pets. An organization can also be named, rather than an individual, to inherit a pet. By researching Illinois estate planning laws and seeking experienced guidance when needed, pet owners can lay the groundwork to provide for any animals that survive their own passing.

Source:, "Don't leave pets out of estate planning", Kristyn Pomranz, April 16, 2018

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