Pets require estate planning.
Your pets are a special part of your family.
They have been with you through the good and the bad.
You want to take care of them.
You feed them, walk them, and bathe them.
When you leave for a trip, you make plans for them.
According to a recent Next Avenue article titled “How to Make Plans to Provide Care for Your Pet If You Can’t,” it is important to include your pets in your estate planning.
Your pets depend on you for their needs.
They love your companionship.
What will happen if you get dementia or Alzheimer’s and forget to feed them?
Who will care for you pets if you become incapacitated or die?
Will they starve, turn feral, or die in a kill shelter?
Without proper planning, the answer could be yes.
If you have no estate plan in place, a court appointed guardian or conservator would make decisions on your behalf.
These decisions would include your pets.
This could be problematic if your guardian does not like your furry family.
What should you do?
Create a power of attorney document for starters.
This will allow you to name an agent to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
If you do this, you get to choose someone who would take care of your pet.
You could also choose to set up a revocable trust.
A trust affords to greater control because you can provide detailed instructions for the care of your pet and the use of property in the trust.
The person you designate as a trustee will be required to follow your instructions in the trust.
You can give specific directions for pet food, veterinarian visits, grooming, toys, and more.
You should designate a caretaker for your pet.
If you are in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you can also provide directions for your pet to be brought.
Some facilities allow a pet to remain in the facility with its human.
Research these facilities in advance if you would prefer to have your pet with you.
Finally, you could set up a standalone pet trust.
The sole purpose of this trust is to hold and distribute assets for the care of your pet.
Discuss your goals and concerns with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a plan to meet the needs of you and your pets.
Reference: Next Avenue (Jan. 10, 2020) “How to Make Plans to Provide Care for Your Pet If You Can’t”