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Care about your pet a lot? Include them in your estate plan

For most people, the main goal of any estate plan is to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of after you die. This can mean everything from detailing your end of life wishes to dividing your assets amongst your beneficiaries to naming an executor for your will.

But for some people, their estate plan goes beyond this and even includes preparations for their pets after their passing. But how is this done and what did a recent celebrity's death teach us about this relatively unknown part of an estate plan?

As many of our Florida readers may already know, Joan Rivers passed away recently, leaving behind an estimated $150 million fortunate. Unmarried, with only a daughter and a grandson to name as heirs, her estate plan was as simple as they come for someone with such a considerable fortune. But in true Rivers' fashion, the 81-year-old celebrity wanted to make her estate plan stand out by showing her loved ones how much she really cared -- even if those loved ones had four legs and a tail.

That's right, as part of Rivers' estate plan, she left behind a sizeable chunk of inheritance to her four dogs. The funds Rivers set aside will go towards taking care of her beloved canines now that she is unable to. It's a maneuver her loved ones were more than happy to acquiesce to.

But if you think that pet trusts, such as the one Rivers likely established for her dogs, are just for celebrities or the incredibly wealthy, you couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone can establish a pet trust.

It's important to point out however that pet trusts often come with up-front costs that may deter some owners. And depending on the type of trust established, an owner may even be required to list duties and responsibilities that must be followed upon their death.

Even though a pet trust will require you to spend more time on your estate plan, knowing that your pet will be taken care of after you are gone is a comfort some say is worth the effort.

Source: Daily Finance, "What Joan Rivers Just Taught Pet Lovers About Estate Planning," Dan Caplinger, Sept. 11, 2014

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