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Can I make my pet the beneficiary in my will?

It is clear that you love your pet and want to make sure the animal is well cared for if you should die first. Unfortunately, in Canada, pets are considered property and are thus ineligible to be named as a beneficiary. In fact, you cannot even leave your pets gifts in your will and pet trusts are out in Canada as well.

Sometimes, a person's family will take a pet in after its owner has died. However, for many this is not a viable option. Family members may live far away, or perhaps the pet owner does not have any family to rely on. Even when informal arrangements have been made with someone to care for the pet, it might not be enough to provide peace of mind.

While wills and trusts are out of the picture, you can use estate planning tools to provide for your pet. A good option for many British Columbia citizens is to create a trust appointing a caregiver to take over the responsibility of caring for your pet. In this legal document you can allocate funds to be used in the care of your pet as well. This way, it will not cost your pet's caregiver any money to assume these duties.

If this sounds like a good solution, you should get together with your lawyer and have the documented drafted as soon as possible. Things to consider include estimating how much the care, grooming and feeding of your pet will cost. You should also factor in regular veterinarian care and funds for any medical emergencies that may arise. You can even include additional funds to compensate your chosen caregiver for his or her time.

To all the pet lovers in British Columbia, take heart, there is a way to make sure your pet survives and thrives after you pass away. Speak with a wills and estates lawyer for additional information.

Source: HighView Financial Group, "Providing for Man’s Best Friend -- Pet Trusts," accessed April 05, 2016

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