We love our furry friends, and we always want to be there for them. But what happens if you can’t? The last thing you want for your pet is for them to end up in a shelter. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s important to protect your pet with a legal plan, how doing so can keep your pet out of a shelter, and how a Pet Trust ensures your pet will receive the care they need if something happens to you.
Why you need to make legal arrangements for your pets in case something happens to you
We love our pets like family – they are family! Every day we take care of them; we feed our pets, take them out for exercise and play, and do everything in our power to make sure they’re healthy and happy. There’s no question, our pets depend on us. Thinking about death is uncomfortable, but do you know what’s going to happen to your pets after you pass on? Just like they depend on you every day, they’ll be completely vulnerable if anything happens to you. Verbal agreements or expectations that your family will take over ownership and care of your pet just isn’t enough. What you and your pet need is a legal plan.
Sadly, 1.3 million pets enter animal shelters each year due to the death of their owners, and worse still, about 650,000 are euthanized. In total, about 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there aren’t enough adoptive homes and shelters are too full. (Source)
Don’t let your pet become a part of these statistics. Instead, include them in your estate plan.
Why Should I Include My Pet in My Estate Plan?
Most pet owners love their pets like family, but they may forget to include their pets in an estate plan because they don’t realize that legally, pets are considered to be property. Others may just assume that a friend or family member will step in and take the pet into their home when the pet owner dies. Unfortunately, in many cases, the pet may end up at a shelter due to one or more of the following reasons:
- The new caregiver is unable to provide permanent care
- The new caregiver has a family member with pet allergies
- The new caregiver has a life change (new baby, move, etc.) that prevents them from continuing to care for the pet
- The pet does not integrate well in their new home
- The pet runs away and ends up on the street
By including your pet in your estate plan, you can ensure that they go to a caregiver who can agree to give them the ongoing care they need. There are options to protect and care for your pet if you die or cannot provide for it due to incapacitation or travel: a Pet Trust is a great place to start!
What is a Pet Trust?
A Pet Trust is a legal document that allows you to make a plan for your pet’s care if you should pass away before they do. It’s similar to a normal Trust, which holds assets of your choice so that they transfer immediately to a beneficiary when you pass away. The Pet Trust is tailored for your pet’s needs.
With this document, you can name a Caregiver who will take possession of your pet upon your death or incapacitation to provide day-to-day care. You can set aside funds in the Pet Trust to pay for the care of your pet, such as grooming, veterinary care, and food. The Caregiver can draw funds from the Pet Trust as needed to pay for the pet’s expenses.
You also appoint a Trustee to manage the Pet Trust and distribute any funds that you set aside for your pet’s care to the Caregiver. Finally, you may want to appoint a Trust Protector to oversee everything, ensuring that the use of the funds and your pet’s care are being followed in accordance with your directions.
A Pet Trust allows you to:
- Appoint a Caregiver, Trustee, and Protector
- Leave a specific amount of money for the care of your pet during its lifetime
- Outline instructions for care
- Define end-of-life care
- Provide burial/cremation preferences
You know your pet better than anyone else. That’s why a Pet Trust is a must for any pet owner, allowing you to provide specific directions for the continued care and comfort of your beloved pet when you cannot.
There is a common belief that we will outlive our pets. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. That’s why you need a plan of action.
You never know when a crisis will strike. If you die or become disabled, the Pet Trust kicks in and spells out your instructions and wishes for the care of your beloved pet.