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Can Coloradans leave some of their assets to animals in need?

Colorado residents who are looking for worthy recipients to list as beneficiaries of some or all of their assets after their death might want to consider the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

It can be especially easy to help animals needing care provided by the ASPCA when the organization is listed as a beneficiary of a company retirement plan, 401(k), Individual Retirement Account or 403(b).

In most cases, this can be done by obtaining the form for designating the beneficiary through your company's Human Resources department, the plan administrator or whichever financial institution manages your assets. Because you remain the owner of the account during your lifetime, you will always be able to access the funds when necessary. Only what remains in the account upon your death will be given to the organization.

The ASPCA can also be named beneficiary of bank account proceeds, life insurance policies and other investments if you choose.

This charitable donation also works when naming a spouse or other loved one as the primary beneficiary of your assets. In some cases, your beneficiary may predecease you, but by naming the ASPCA as a contingent beneficiary, you already have a plan in place and won't need to worry needlessly about financial issues while grieving the loss of your loved one.

An additional benefit of designating retirement monies to a registered charity like the ASPCA is that income and estate taxes are waived. Unless your beneficiary is your spouse, your heirs are responsible for taxes on assets. Contact the organization for more information on financial bequests.

It's also important to have a plan in place for the future of any pets you may personally own at the time of your death. A Colorado estate planning attorney is a source of information for establishing a trust for your pets' care after your death.

Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, "Beneficiary Designations: A Gift to the ASPCA that Costs Nothing Now" accessed Mar. 04, 2015

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