None of us like to think about our death and what will happen afterward, but it’s very important to consider estate planning for pets. The October 2015 issue of Catnip magazine advised taking these steps when estate planning:
- Choose the plan that will work best for your pet’s care. Several options are available (including a pet trust) and laws vary from state to state, so talk to an attorney to help you choose the option that will be best for your pets.
- Choose caregivers. This is an important decision, since whomever you select will be providing care for your pets after you’re gone. It may be necessary to select someone for short term care, then a different person for longer term care. Discuss your intentions with those people you’ve selected to ensure they are willing and able to fulfill the obligation. Carry a pet ID card with you that lists these caregivers and their contact information in the event you are seriously injured or suddenly die.
- Develop a written plan. Once you’ve decided on the best plan and the caregivers that will be responsible for your pet, it is important to document the plan. The plan should be very specific, going so far as to list feeding and grooming schedules, veterinarian name and frequency of visits and whether you want them to stay together (if you have more than one pet). If there is money left in a plan you develop, document how you want that money distributed. If you want monies to go to a specific charity, for example, be sure to document that charity and the frequency and amount to be donated
- Funding the plan. Determine how much money to place in the plan based on expenses for your pet’s ongoing care. Take into consideration medical expenses, food, toys supplies and any money you might want to pay your pet’s caregiver.
- Let someone know where it is. After going to the trouble and expense to document a care plan for your pets, it won’t be any good if no one knows where it is. It doesn’t hurt to let a couple of people know in the event one person is unable to assist or maybe passes away too.
- Keep information current. If you relocate to a different state, or need to make changes in any aspect of the estate plan, be sure to keep the information current. As stated above, laws vary by state and it’s important to make any necessary changes to be sure your plan can be executed as you’d planned.
There are several resources available to help with estate planning for pets. Here are a few named in the Catnip article:
- ASPCA; Their site includes many articles on estate planning for pets, including an FAQ section and a pet trust primer. Go to http://bit.ly/1PLw42X
- 2nd Chance For Pets: This site offers a wide variety of resources discussing estate planning for pets. Go to 2ndchance4pets.org
- Humane Society of the United States (HSUS): This site has an estate planning guide in downloadable PDF format. Go to http://bit.ly/1iI3zYZ