Does Your Estate Plan Include Your Pet? Documents You Need to Get Started, and Why You Need to Add Them

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At Gentreo, we love pets. For all the love pets share with us, we believe they deserve to be cared for like family – which includes making sure they are protected in your estate plan. If you don’t include your pets in your estate plan, they may be left vulnerable if something happens to you and you’re unable to care for them, yourself.

From gifting your pets in your Will, to making sure to complete a Power of Attorney for Pet Care when you’re away, your pets should be included throughout your estate planning documents.

Gentreo offers several estate planning documents with your pets in mind:

Emergency Card

Gentreo’s Emergency Card addresses the needs of both you and your pet in the event of an emergency. The Emergency Card provides specific information in regards to your healthcare needs and emergency contact information as well as identifying your pet, their emergency care provider, and their contact information. This allows first responders and others assisting you in a crisis to provide the necessary care quickly and easily for you and your pet.

This document allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions for your pet when you are not able to due to absence or infirmity. It grants authority to your pet caregiver to make medical decisions for your pet on your behalf. When you are creating this document, you can choose to create both a short term, referred to as Limited pet Power of Attorney, and a Durable Pet Power of Attorney. The short term one is usually used when you are going on a vacation or maybe will be unavailable to care for your pet due to your medical needs. The Durable Pet Power of Attorney is meant to be forever. You can change it if you want, as long as you have capacity (capacity, simply defined, is the ability to know and understand what you are doing). For example, you may have appointed a dear friend as your Durable Pet Power of Attorney, but your friend suddenly died. As long as you still have capacity, you can appoint someone else as your Durable Pet Power of Attorney.

Both of these documents address the short term and long-term needs of your pet caregiver and your pet and provide opportunities to further plan for your pet in the event of an emergency. You are also able to express your choice on humane euthanasia and set a dollar limit on the cost of medical care. These documents allow you to control the choices for your pet’s care and ensure that they are protected. These documents also protect you and your pet caregiver by formalizing your relationship and the limits of what your pet caregiver can decide in your absence.

Even if you have a Pet Power of Attorney and a Will, it might be good to also create a Pet Care Trust, so that your pets will be cared for according to your wishes if you are unable to make decisions for your pets yourself.

Even though you consider your pets as part of the family, the law views them as possessions and therefore they are considered part of your estate. When you create your Will, you can protect your pet by giving it to the person you know will take the best care of them.

Living Trusts

Similar to a Will, a Trust may be something that you set up before you die, which allocates how your assets will be used or spent while you are still living. When you die, your remaining assets can fund your Trust per the instructions you set in your Will, and those assets are then handled as you stipulate in your Trust. Gentreo will soon offer a Trust for pet care, which will allow you to create a Trust and fund it to cover the costs of caring for your pet.

Last and just as importantly, these essential estate planning documents should be stored and accessible to your designated trusted circle of family and friends, anywhere, anytime.

 

Gentreo offers many products for pet owners to address the practical and legal concerns of pet ownership, so that your pets and those that care for them are protected. In addition, the Gentreo Digital Family Vault has a section dedicated to the needs of pet owners, so that your pet’s medical and daily care needs can be documented and easily shared. We developed these products and are expanding our offerings because, at Gentreo, our pets are family.

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