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Superstorm a reminder to provide for pets in Kent estate plans

Images of Superstorm Sandy's battering of New York and other east coast regions last month may have touched the hearts of many Kent residents. Amidst the scenes of flooding and lost homes, one of the stories that may have been overlooked involved the tough choices many residents had to face when it came to the fate of their pets.

An attorney for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that the destructive storm may have motivated some of those in its path to consider drafting a will for the first time. She hopes that more Americans will take the time to make arrangements for their pets when crafting their estate plans.

By some estimates, nearly two-thirds of Americans own pets, but less than half have taken the relatively simple step of preparing a will. Among pet owners who have executed a will, less than a fifth remembered to include plans for the care of their pets. The ASPCA attorney says that many of the millions of animals that are euthanized in shelters every year wind up there simply because their owners made no plans for the care of pets who outlived them.

Making provisions for pets in a will may help provide for their futures, but it does not afford a foolproof solution. If a will gets tied up in probate litigation, a beloved pet may be left in the lurch. A pet trust offers a more reliable option. Even a modestly funded pet trust can ensure the well-being of a beloved family member for years.

Washington state has laws that expressly recognize the legal validity of a pet trust. Pet trusts can be crafted to include very basic provisions or can include more elaborate instructions, such as the amount to be allocated to various care expenses. Whether through a will or a pet trust, Washingtonians should consider including their pets in simple and effective estate plan.

Source: Today, "Superstorm showed need for estate planning for pets," Jacoba Urist, Nov. 12, 2012

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