Creating a plan for your pet may sound silly to some. But for many of us, especially seniors, our pets are our family members. Do you have a plan for your pet if you were incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently? What if you needed to go into residential care for therapy, recovery, or a permanent stay? What would happen to your pet?
Without a plan for your pet, your companion may end up in a shelter, should you outlive them. Therefore, you want to make sure you do all you can to protect them. You want to make sure they are safe, and that they continue to receive a high level of care, no matter what the future brings.
Choosing a Caregiver for Your Pet
The first step in creating a plan for your pet, is deciding who should care for them in your absence. Choose someone who is willing and trustworthy enough to oversee the pet for the long-term. Be upfront about what you expect. Take into consideration any special accommodations, if your pet is expected to live a long time, or has any special health requirements.
Here’s a quick checklist of things to think about when choosing a caregiver.
- Make sure to choose someone able and willing to take on the task.
- Is this person active enough to take care of a pet?
- Do they have the right personality needed to care for a pet?
- How should the transfer happen?
Creating a Plan For Your Pet
At the Law Office of Constance Aschenbrenner, we can help you set up an agreement that will set aside funds to support your plan for your pet.
Determine the Cost
When deciding the amount, consider the type of animal, age, health, and lifestyle. Determine how much you typically spend on your pet per year and multiply that by the approximate life expectancy. Keep in mind the court has the power to change the amount if they feel it is excessive.
If your pet is a dog, expenses may include things like food, vet care, dog daycare, pet sitting, professional dog walking, grooming. It could also include equipment like harnesses, leashes, beds, toys, and any devices like seatbelts or fencing, that you use to keep your dog safe.
Covering the Cost
Once the cost has been determined, we can then create a plan for your pet. The plan would ensure the funds will be be protected and available to the person caring for your pet. If you have certain conditions or stipulations, all that can be written into the plan.
With regards to money, make sure the preferred caregiver is someone you can trust. They are under no legal obligation to respect your wishes after you are gone. Sometimes the person who cares for your pet will also handle your money. In other cases, they may be two different people.
You may also want to setup a secondary person, in case your first choice doesn’t work out. And there should also be arrangements in place for any remaining money after your pet is gone.
Consider Other Arrangements
When you create a plan for your pet, agreements may be simple or complex. Or you may leave the decision to your appointed power of attorney.
No matter how you address the issues, all documents should be reviewed for content by an estate planning attorney. This is to make sure your pet plan agrees with the rest of your estate plan. If your pet plan, or any other part of your estate plan does not agree or is incomplete, your entire estate could be vulnerable to probate.
Sanctuaries or retirement homes are possible living situations for people without remaining family or identified caretakers. These places will watch over the pet until it dies, typically in exchange for a sizable donation.
These types of arrangements are usually sponsored by non-profit animal welfare groups. You may check with your local humane society to see if they offer such programs. Be certain to make arrangements with the program before including it in the plan for your pet. Also, remember to leave instructions in your estate plan for the pet’s veterinarian.
Include Burial Wishes In Your Plan For Your Pet
Lastly, when creating a plan for your pet, you should outline wishes for your pet’s burial or cremation. Ultimately, the decisions you make will depend on what works best for you and your family, your pet, and your financial situation.
There is no greater peace of mind for pet owners than securing care for their companion animals. Providing for their future is the ultimate act of love for the animals that give us so much unconditional love and become true family members.
If you have questions about a plan for your pet, contact the Office of Constance A. Aschenbrenner today.