What Will Happen to Your Pet When You Are Gone?
If you have pets, from time to time you may wonder what would happen to them in the event of your death. Usually, those thoughts are quickly pushed aside as too painful to think about. The choices that immediately come to mind are:
1. Do nothing and leave their fate up to providence.
2. Set up a trust to care for them per your specifications.
3. Leave them in the care of a trusted family member or friend.
4. Have them humanely euthanized and let them accompany you to the next world like the Pharaohs of old.
Of course, there are pros and cons to each of these options and the choice is further complicated depending upon the number, age, and expected the life span of your pet(s).
Probably the most common are doing nothing. This option places an unfair burden on the person handling your estate. Maybe they’ll find a wonderful home. More likely they will end up in a shelter competing with all the other homeless animals, potentially facing euthanasia. Pleas for pets seeking homes after their owner dies are all too common.
If you are financially able, you may choose to set up a trust and specify your wishes in your will. (It is important to note that without a will pets are considered part of the estate and go to next of kin, regardless of your wishes.) In this way, you can provide for your pet(s) for the remainder of their lives. You can specify the exact care they are to be given. There is still no guarantee that they will thrive without you, but at least you will have done everything in your power to provide for their well-being.
There is a solution to this dilemma. It is a three-step process to ensure that your animal friends will have a home it for some fortunate accident or disease may cause you not to be able to take care of them anymore.
Step one: Identify Caregivers –
You can identify who will take care of your pets in the times that you cannot. Who will adopt your pets should you should become incapacitated or you die? If there is no one that you know then there are local pet sitters, animal rescue groups that may be able to help.
Step Two: Prepare Written instructions –
That is done by writing instructions outlining how your pet should be cared for. What you need to write are such things like how you want your pet to be taken care of, how you want them to live – in an another household or in a sanctuary or with another person. To make sure that your wishes are followed, you must document these instructions and let others know where to find them.
Step Three: Set up a fund –
How are the needs of your pet going to be met? You buy food, medical care, and supplies for your pets. This cost will not stop when you are not there to provide them. Consider setting aside money to cover the temporary or permanent care. Some of the professionals that can help you with this can be estate planners, financial planners, and your life insurance company representative.
Other things that can be done is to get emergency ID cards. You will want two of them, one to carry with you and one to post at your home. These cards should include 1. Who to contact in case of an emergency. 2. Your address. 3. All of your pets names and the type of an animal it is.
Many states have pet trust laws. Pet trusts, wills, and estates con be a way to effectively plan for your pet care. You need to consider (1) making certain that who is to take care of your pet is named in your estate plan is committed to taking over the care of your pets, and (2) you will have to update your estate plans to keep then current.