Estate Planning and Pet Care: Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that 85 million households (67%) own a pet in the United States?

Owning a pet is a great way to stay active, reduce feelings of loneliness and stress, and increase your social interaction. All reasons why many elderly people in particular benefit from having a pet. But what happens to your pet if you’re unable to look after him/her?

In this guide, we’ll explore estate planning and pet care, so you know what will happen to your pet after your gone.

What Are Your Long Term Pet Care Options?

When it comes to estate planning, you’ll have a lot to think about, but if you’re a pet owner, you’ll also need to think about what happens to your pet after you’ve passed away. There are three main options when it comes to life long pet care after you die.

1. Leave Your Pet to Someone You Know in Your Will

The first option is to leave your pet with someone you know in your will. Ask your loved ones if they would be able to look after your pet in the event of your death. If they agree and can look after your pet, you should write this in your will or living trust.

You can also choose to allocate some of your finances to the person to cover pet costs. The new owner of your pet won’t have a legal obligation to care for your pet, but if you choose someone you trust, then this shouldn’t be an issue. If your pet has specific or advanced pet care needs, you can also leave a document detailing it.

This option is best for those who have close friends and family that they trust.

2. Create a Pet Trust

The second option is similar to the first, in that you find someone to look after your pet. However, creating a pet trust means that the person you entrust with your pet does have a legal obligation to care for him/her. During your estate planning, you’ll draw up a trust document where you name the person who will look after your pet, provide care instructions, and leave money for the carer.

Unlike option one, creating a trust ensures that the trustee follows your instructions and uses the money for pet care. This option is the best way to ensure your trustee will look after your pet after dying.

3. Charitable Programs

There are also charitable programs that can take care of your pet if you die and don’t have anyone to look after him/her. These programs are designed to look after your pet and ensure that they get a loving home. Some charities will find loving homes for your pet, while others take it upon themselves to care for your pet over his/her lifetime.

Charitable programs that offer potential rehoming can’t always guarantee that your pet will be rehomed. However, charitable pet care centers that look after your pet for you can often guarantee a lifetime of pet care and love.

Most charitable programs will require a donation or fee to help cover the costs of looking after your pet. The amount of donation is often up to the organization; however, it could be up to $25,000.

Choosing a charitable program might not be the most affordable pet care option, but it is a good idea if you don’t have anyone to look after your pet.

Make Short-Term Care Plans

When you’re planning your estate, make sure you speak to a professional who can discuss the legal documents and protect your interest and your pet’s interest. However, long term care plans may take a while to come into effect, which is why you should also make short term care plans.

In the event of sudden illness or death, it is also important to make short-term pet care plans. Short term pet care plans will be similar to your long term plans; however, they will need to be actionable right away. Follow these tips to create a short term plan:

1. Choose a Trusted Friend or Family Member Who Lives Close

When choosing someone to look after your pet, you need to ensure that you can trust them to look after them. You also need to choose someone who lives close to your home, for ease of access.

Another short term arrangement you’ll need is for the trusted person to access your property or land. For example, they might need keys or need to know the security code for your property.

2. Ensure They Know Vital Information

Your short-term pet carer will need to know all the vital information about your pet. For example, they’ll need to know what food to give him/her, and how much, what exercise your pet needs, what medications your pet needs, and veterinary contact details.

Your short-term pet carer may also need to know where your pet medical records are and the long-term pet carer’s contact details. You might decide to write a list of everything a short-term and a long-term pet carer will need to know to look after your pet and tell the short-term carer where the details can be found.

3. Leave Money for the Carer

As well as for instructions on how to care for your pet, the short-term carer will also need money to cover expenses. For example, they might need money for food or medicine for your pet. You might decide to leave some money that could cover a month of supplies with your instructions.

Sort Out Your Pet Care

Deciding who can and will look after your pet in the short and long term after your death is an essential part of your estate planning. Follow our guide on pet care to ensure that your pet will be well looked after if you unexpectedly can’t look after him/her anymore.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other articles to discover your pet’s best diets and how to cure pet boredom.

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