People who love their pets sometimes forget that disability or death may cause them to not be able to care for their beloved animal companions. Here are several ways you can make certain that your pets will be well cared for if the unexpected happens.
Before You Make a Final Decision:
Find and Appoint a Caretaker for Your Pet
This is an easy task for some pet lovers; for others, like exotic pet owners, not so much. Finding a caregiver may entail simply asking family, friends or your veterinarian. Don’t rely on your feelings on the subject, however. Get their agreement in writing. You should also ask a second possibility as an alternate.
Your Pet’s History and Needs List
Make a written file or something similar in order to inform all involved of everything they would need to know in your absence. Make sure it is easy for your appointed caretaker(s) to find and be sure to include all the information they may need, from now to the end-of-life decisions. Don’t assume your caretaker knows anything.
Here are three of the top ways that pet lovers today are caring for their beloved animal family members:
You can name your pet as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy (or a bank account as well). Just keep the amount reasonable. If you don’t, like Leona Helmsley’s dog Trouble, your pet legacy or inheritance may be contested.
A Pet Inheritance in Your Will
At least 27% of people in the U.S. have pets included in their wills. The problem with that is many of these legacies may not be properly assigned. Simply leaving Fluffy to Aunt Harriet, the cat lover may not be sufficient protection for your pet. It is better to not only leave your beloved pet with someone who will take care of them but to also provide the caretaker with the appropriate funds to provide for the pet. You will need to make certain, however, to be specific about the disbursement of those funds. Of course, you will need to make certain that Aunt Harriet is also willing to take Fluffy for the rest of his life before assigning her as your designated caretaker.
Your veterinarian can assist you in determining cost associated with care and for how you should plan, but if you want to make certain that the legal issues won’t arise, ask for the assistance of a lawyer that specializes in pet-related law. There are any number of lawyers involved in this fairly new but fast-growing aspect of the law across the country.
Pet Retirement Home
Retirement isn’t just for people. Some organizations and universities as well as private individuals and companies, provide for pet “retirement” at special locations.
These homes provide for care, either for life or until a new home can be found for the pet. Of course, you will want to check the financial information before signing any agreements, but there may be other things you may want to ask about such as: type of medical care available, what emergency precautions are available to the pets, end-of-life information, how many animals are in the facility and is the facility rated and/or inspected by the county or state. Of course you will want to be sure to specify if your pet should remain in their care of should they find your pet a new adoptive family.
Other than the legal aspects, there are some considerations for the future of your pet without you that you shouldn’t forget. No matter how you proceed be certain to:
- Leave sufficient fund to financially provide for food, supplies and medical care.
- Leave financial remuneration for the caregiver.
- Leave instructions on grooming your pet, food preferences, medications, veterinarian care and any other specifics like grooming and exercise.
- Provide additional benefits for your pet’s prospective caretaker such as homeowners insurance for pet owners.
- Consider naming a back-up for a caregiver should your first be unable to continue.
- Leave any instructions for end-of-life for your pet.