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By Bradley J. Frigon

We receive numerous requests regarding the continued care of a beloved pet after a client's death. For many individuals, their pets are their family and they wish to provide for them as they would other intended beneficiaries of their estate. Colorado law currently allows for the creation of a pet trust which can be incorporated into your will or trust.

Whether the animal is highly trained (and expensive), a house pet or group of pets, the owner should formalize the arrangement within their estate plan. Often clients assure us that the Executor of their estate or a family member will handle the care and disposition of their pets after they pass away. In some cases an informal arrangement will work but many clients do not want to leave this to chance. To make sure the pet is cared for, a more formal arrangement may be called for. That formal arrangement is called a "Pet Trust."

At a minimum, the Pet Trust should provide the amount of funds set aside for the care of the pet, the disposition of the pet's remains upon death, the choice of care providers for the pet, and the compensation of the custodian. Additionally, an incentive for the care of the pet can be provided by a "longevity" clause. In other words, a payment can be made to the custodian for as long as the pet is alive. Upon death the payment ceases.

It is often a good idea to incorporate a "watchdog" (no pun intended) provision into the document. A "watchdog" is a person designated in the document to monitor the activities of the custodian to make sure the custodian is properly caring for the pet. The sky is the limit regarding the type of provisions that can be contained in the document.

It is also a good idea to include a provision about your pets in your financial durable power of attorney. A financial durable power of attorney is a document you use during your lifetime in case you lose mental capacity and cannot act for yourself. In many cases, it is important for your agent to make decisions about the care and placement of your pet when you cannot act for yourself.

For some good information on Pet Trusts check out http://www.keln.org/ If you have a special pet in your life, make sure he or she is properly provided for upon your death. If needed, incorporate a pet trust into your estate plan.

Learn more

Learn more by browsing our estate planning articles.


Call (720) 200-4025 now or email us to find out how our attorneys can advise you on your estate planning.

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6500 South Quebec Street
Suite 330, Englewood, CO 80111
Phone:(720) 200-4025
Fax: (720) 200-4026
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