Many individuals in Massachusetts and elsewhere may consider their dogs or cats as more than just pets and instead choose to treat them as members of the family. While many pet owners may wish to include their beloved pets in their plans for the future, they might be uncertain how best to achieve this goal. Fortunately, there are a variety of estate planning options that could help address one’s wishes and preferences for extended family members.

According to experts, one option that might be worth considering pertains to including a beloved pet within the terms of a will. In a will, one may be able to choose a person to act as guardian for the pet in the event of an untimely death and provide this person with funds to help care for the pet. Prior to making a similar decision, a person could benefit from understanding that unlike other beneficiaries in a will, pets are typically treated as an asset instead of family members.

When planning for the future, pet owners may also have the option of setting up a trust for their extended family members. With a pet trust, a person may have more control over the type of care the pet will receive after the owner passes on. In a similar arrangement, a person may be able to choose one party to act as caretaker of the pet while enlisting another party to act as trustee and manage the funds allocated to the pet trust.

There are a variety of estate planning options that can help safeguard the well-being of loved ones, but choosing the best path can be a complex process. Fortunately, there are attorneys in Massachusetts who can evaluate a person’s wishes and provide guidance in making informed decisions. An attorney can work with a client in forming a plan centered on providing for the needs and interests of all his or her loved ones.