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Using trustees to provide for pets after death

When planning for an individual's final wishes, it is important to be sure those wishes can be enforced under provincial law. This is particularly important for British Columbia residents who wish to provide for their pets in the event of their death. Since the law does not handle animal companions the same way it deals with children, a designated trustee or trustees can help take care of the arrangements for the care of a beloved pet. 

In the eyes of the law, pets are considered property, which means an individual cannot leave money or property directly to a pet. However, there are other options available for those who wish to ensure money is set aside for the care of their pets. Setting up a trust in a will is a good way to do this; it allows an individual to set aside as much or as little of the estate as is desired to be held in trust for the care of an animal. 

The responsibility for distributing this money would fall to a trustee, who may or may not also be responsible for the pet's personal care. The trustee is allowed to remove money from the trust to ensure the pet is provided for, possibly providing the money to a caregiver who is also specified in a will. However, it is also important to consider what happens to that trust in the event of the animal's death, as that money will need to be redistributed. 

Estate planning can be complicated for anyone, as many British Columbia residents are already aware. This is why it is important to secure the support of an experienced attorney to help draft a will, assign trustees and otherwise ensure final wishes are carried out. This can provide considerable peace of mind not only to the testator, but to his or her family -- furry or otherwise. 

Source: moneysense.ca, "Estate planning: How do I ensure my daughter gets my dog after I die?", Ed Oklovich, Nov. 25, 2016

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