Americans certainly love their pets. There are approximately 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats owned in the United States. 39% of American households include at least one dog and one in three American households includes at least one cat.

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Most pet owners think of their pets as members of the family. Unfortunately, our furry family members are often overlooked during the estate planning process. Upon your death or disability:

Who will have the physical custody (known as a “care taker”) of your pet?

Will the care taker have the financial means to care for your pet in the manner you choose?

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A Pet Trust is a great tool for insuring the proper care of your four-legged loved one.

Pet Trusts are designed to take effect upon your death or disability. A Trustee is named to manage the financial assets of the Pet Trust and the distribution of those assets for the benefit of your pet. Certain benefits, such as pet health insurance, can be an allowable expense of a Pet Trust. Pet owners who are considering a Pet Trust might also wish to consider purchasing a pet health insurance policy at the same time.

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A Care Giver is named to have the physical care and custody of your pet. Often times the Trustee and Care Giver are the same person, but not in all cases. A Pet Trust can be funded with a specific dollar amount, an income producing asset, a portion of your estate or the total of your estate. The trust can dictate the standard of care for the pet, such as annual veterinarian checks, particular food, exercise, etc. Upon the death of the pet, the trust will distribute any remaining funds according to your wishes as reflected within in the Pet Trust.

Cat and dog owners spend, on average, $230 annually on routine veterinarian care alone.   Are you taking the necessary steps to make sure that your pet family member continues to receive the love and care it deserves?