We love our pets, whether it’s a little ball of canine sunshine or a persnickety cat who carefully doles out his affection, our pets are part of the family. For some, though, they may not realize that you can indeed plan for your pet if you’re incapacitated or no longer here to care for him. If you have pets, making provisions for their care in the event of your death should be an important part of your estate planning process. It’s true their lifespans are shorter than ours, but for a growing number of seniors, their pets become their constant companion. It makes sense to include plans for them; in fact, most clients believe they have a responsibility to ensure they’re cared for.
Life Gets in the Way
Accidents and illnesses strike every minute of every day, regardless of our age or overall health. The last thing anyone needs to do as they’re recuperating is worry about their pets being properly fed and cared for. For a few of our clients, they’ve made provisions for their pets their first priority after recovering from an illness that required a hospital stay. While all had family members who either visited their loved one’s home every day to feed and water a pet or brought the pets home with them , they all agreed they didn’t want to leave it to chance should they ever be incapacitated again.
Have you included your pet in your long term estate planning efforts? Here are a few tips that we share with our clients:
Finding someone to care for a pet is great, finding more than one person is peace of mind. Naturally, you’ll need to trust whomever you select and ideally, you’ll provide them with keys to your home so that they can follow your wishes. It’s always a great idea to prepare a list of your feeding and care instructions, any allergies and a number to your veterinarian’s office. Be sure to let your chosen caretakers know where they can access that list. In fact, you can even add a copy to your estate plan that’s in your attorney’s office.
It’s also a good idea to carry a card or list in your purse or wallet that lists names and phone numbers of your emergency pet guardians, and also list the names and types of pets you have.
For your estate plan, consider these important tips:
A pet trust can be included in your overall estate plan and you can include your pet in your will. It can be as simply as naming a designated guardian and access to a small account you may have that’s earmarked for the care of your pet after your death.
Keep in mind, though, just because you select and name someone in your will doesn’t mean they must accept the responsibility. It’s always a good idea to speak with anyone you’re considering to ensure they’re willing to take on the responsibility for the long haul.
Remember, you’ll want to make arrangements for your pet after your death and before your will is actually read. You can cover those bases by, again, ensuring there are at least a couple people willing to shoulder the responsibility until your beloved pet is able to settle into his new permanent home (unless, of course, the interim caretaker is the one you’ve chosen for his long term care).
Getting Help with Pet Trusts in Beverly
We invite you to contact our team of estate planning attorneys who can help guide you through the process of ensuring your pet is as cared for and loved by another, just as you care for and love Fido.