Don’t Forget to Plan for Pets!

Many of us have pets that we love. What would happen if you were no longer able to care for them? Here are answers to some basic estate paw-lanning questions.

Many people have pets that they are devoted and attached to. Perhaps you are concerned about what would happen to your pets if you were no longer able to take care of them. Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Can I provide for my pets if I am unable to take care of them?
Yes, you can. This applies to any domestic animal. The law allows you to choose a caretaker for your pets. If you become sick or disabled, you should designate the custody and care of your pets to a friend or relative until your health improves. You do this by writing a note or a document that authorizes someone to care for your pets in your absence. You can also include directions for the care of your pets in your will or trust. Before you name someone as caretaker for your pets, you should discuss it with them to make sure that they are willing to take the responsibility.

Can I provide financially for my pets during my illness or disability, or after my death?
Yes. During any sickness or injury, the person who is handling your financial affairs can also be given the power to provide for your pets. You may provide funds to your caretaker for food, supplies and veterinary care. A lump sum distribution can be provided to the caretaker after your death. If you have a trust, certain provisions can be included to empower the trustee(s) to assist in your animal’s care. Funds can be given to the caretaker specifically for pet care.

Can I create a trust just for my pets?
Yes, the use of trusts is allowed to provide for the care of an animal. You can set forth your wishes for a caretaker of your choice, and direct how funds may be spent. You can provide that in special circumstances, such as an illness or emergency, your pet caretaker can spend additional funds.

If I can’t find a caretaker, can I name a humane society or animal shelter?
Yes. A cash gift along with the designation of the shelter of your choice may be appropriate and could result in a longer adoption period for your pets. You may wish to state your wishes as to the new home for your pets including pet names, and any special needs. Gifts to shelters or an animal sanctuary of your choice are considered charitable donations and can bring tax savings.

What else can I do to protect the pets I love?
You could carry a note in your purse or wallet explaining that you have pets at home that depend on you. List their names, what kind of pet and what care they need. You may wish to include the name and phone number of a friend or relative who can gain legal access to your home or yard.

In conclusion, your estate planning can entail issues related to the care of a pet. Pets can be a very important part of one’s life. If your pets are very important to you, do not neglect to plan for them when considering your estate planning affairs.

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