Most people consider their pets a part of their family. Pets offer companionship, stress relief, love and affection. In exchange, we take care of their needs: feeding, grooming, providing medical care and medications, etc. Providing care for animals can be expensive; it seems that most veterinarians now provide services more akin to pediatric care. Pet care is often forgotten about during the Life Planning process. When vacationing, we arrange for our pets to be cared for by a pet sitter, by boarding them, or sending them to a family member or friend’s house. Those options might be available for a hospital stay or nursing home placement; but what happens when a pet owner dies? Pets can be provided for a few different ways.
Most people ask a friend or family member to take in their pet in case of the owner’s death. While this will work in most cases, there are issues to consider. First, your verbal understanding is not legally binding. Second, people’s situations change. The person you thought would take care of your pet may not be able to do so when the time comes. Do you have an alternative plan in place?
Some pet owners choose to have legal documents to provide care for their four-legged children. Those legal documents could be something as simple as including a specific devise in the Last Will and Testament that states they are leaving a set amount to a certain person for the care and benefit of the pet. Another legal option is to create a Trust for the benefit of their Pet or include their Pets as a beneficiary of their Trust. Trusts can include an amount to cover financial costs, specific instructions on how to provide for the pets such as expectations of living arrangements, and who should provide the care. Whenever a pet plan is established, it should include any pet that you care for at your death as most of us own numerous pets over our lifetime.
If you have a Pet that you need to plan for, call W.G. Alexander & Associates at (919) 256-7000.