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Estate plans can include all of your loved ones -- even pets

Animals can prove to be excellent companions at any age. Whether a person becomes a pet owner in his or her teenage years or later years, important bonds can be formed. When people think of estate planning, they may only think about assets and physical property, but provisions can be made for furry friends too.

Legally speaking, pets are considered property, but many people view pets as an extension of their own family. As such, it may be important for some people to determine who will care for a pet after they pass away.

In some cases, pets outlive their human owners. If this is the case, a good home may have to be arranged for the pet. While some families may be able to determine who will take their loved one's cat or dog without specific direction, owners may not want to leave any doubt that their companion will be taken care of. As such, a new pet owner can be named in a will. Furthermore, it may even be valuable to create a trust for the animal according to the terms of Colorado probate law.

Just like people, pets have health care costs, and new owners may not be able to assume those expenses. This is where trusts can come into play. A pet owner can establish this legal entity to provide funds for pet care and other expenses related to ownership. This way, a person can better assure that their animal will be in good hands.

Of course, not everyone may need to include a pet in an estate plan. However, this post can serve as a reminder for individuals to think about what is important to them and what kind of legacy they would like to create. These ideas can be applied to estate planning.

Source: Grand Junction Free Press, "Estate planning is important for your pets, too," Caitlin Row, Sept. 23, 2013

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