If you have pets, my guess is that you love them as much as you do your children, but I’m also guessing that you have not provided any written or, better yet, legally documented instructions about what should happen to them, if you become incapacitated or when you die. If you have, read this article with an eye to ensuring you’ve checked all the right boxes for the beings you love. If you haven’t, read on because it’s time to take action, and we can make it easy for you to do the right thing by the pets you love.
Let’s start by looking at what happens if you become incapacitated or when you die, if you’ve done nothing to ensure the well-being and care of your pets. It may be that if you do nothing, one or more of your friends and family will step forward to take care of your pets. But, will the person who steps forward be the person you would choose? And, will they be able to easily afford to care for your pet, in the way you do?
Questions to Answer About Your Pet’s Care in Your Estate Plan
Will they feed your pet the same food you do?
Will they be able to spend as much time and energy with your pet as you do?
Will they be able to offer your pet the same quality of life you do?
Do you care about these sorts of things?
If you do care, you do need to take action. You cannot just leave the well-being and care of your pets to chance. If you don’t designate at least one person, and ideally one person plus backups to care for your pets, and provide instructions to the people you’ve named, and perhaps also money to support the care of your pets, your pets could become a burden to your friends and family, or even be brought to the humane society.
Steps to Plan for Your Pet’s Care in Your Estate Plan
So, step one in all circumstances is to legally name the people you would want to care for your pets, in the event you cannot. You should name these people in your will, and also in a “pet power of attorney” providing for your pet’s care in the event of your incapacity.
Step two is to give the people you’ve named specific instructions about how you want your pets to be cared for, if you cannot do it, including type and amounts of food, any medications needed, exercise plan, and any other special things you know about your pets that any caretaker should know.
Finally, step three is to consider whether you need to provide financial resources to care for your pets.
If your pet has any special needs, or if you want to provide funding for training, regular exercise, or a certain kind of food or care, it’s up to you to provide the financial resources to the people you’ve named to take care of your pets.
Pet Trust Planning for the Care of Your Pets
The way to provide funding for the care of your pets is through a pet trust. I’ll share the details of pet trust planning with you in next week’s article.