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Pet owners can provide for animals in their estate plans

Nevada residents may have heard the story about the inheritance that Leona Helmsley left to her dog when she died in 2007. Helmsley's dog Trouble was left $12 million, but a judge later ruled that the dog's inheritance was excessive, and $10 million was given to charity. Gail Posner left $3 million to her three dogs and instructed her staff to continue caring for them in an $8.4 million house.

The stories of multi-million dollar dog inheritances may sound extreme, but many pet owners create pet trust funds that are in line with their pet's actual financial needs. Pet owners who want to ensure that their pets are provided for when they die may include a simple statutory pet trust in their will or create a more detailed traditional pet trust outside of their will.

A trust may be useful for an elderly person who owns a young, healthy pet that is likely to live for many more years. Many pet trusts are set up for parrots because parrots often outlive their human caregivers, growing to be as old as 100 years. The amount of money that is set aside to care for a pet in anestate plan will depend on the pet's age and the lifestyle that the pet owner would like to provide for the pet.

An estate planning attorney may be able to discuss pet trust fund options with a pet owner who would like to include their pet in their estate plan. If the pet owner is confident that their family members will provide for their pet, an attorney may advise the pet owner to write a simple provision concerning the pet's care in their will. A pet owner who would like more control over their pet's care may be advised to set up a traditional pet trust.

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