What Happens to My Pet(s) After I’m Gone?

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small dog curled up on sofa with orange cushions

A lot of us don’t like thinking about what happens after we pass. Even if we do make these plans, something we often forget to consider is what will happen to our pets after I’m gone. Our pet family members – and that’s what they are, family – depend on us, and if we suddenly were unable to care for them, they could end up in a shelter.

Why do you need to think about your pet in your estate plan?

Legally, pets are considered property, but since we view them as family members, its important to remember to include them  in our estate plans. However, to make sure that your pets will be taken care of in case of any emergency you need to include them in your legal arrangements. Only a Will or a Pet Trust can ensure that an owner’s wishes will be carried out, and you should at very least include your pet in your Will as an “asset” that will be given to someone you trust when you pass away. 

It’s important to appoint a caregiver for your pet in case something happens to you, and there are a number of pre-emptive measures you can take to make sure that your pet(s) will be taken care of after you’re gone.

How a Pet Trust protects your pet

There is a common belief that we will outlive our pets, but this is not always the case. That’s why you need a plan of action. A Pet Trust is a great option. It’s similar to a normal Trust that holds assets of your choice that transfer to a beneficiary when you pass away. The difference is that a Pet Trust is tailored for your pet’s needs.

You never know when a crisis will strike. If you die suddenly or become disabled, the Pet Trust kicks in and spells out your instructions and wishes for the care of your beloved pet. 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 most important part of a Pet Trust is to name a Caregiver who will take possession of your pet upon your death or incapacitation to provide their day-to-day care. If you have set funds aside for your pet’s ongoing care, the Caregiver can draw funds from the Pet Trust as needed to pay for the pet’s expenses.

In addition to the Caregiver, you also appoint a Trustee to manage the Pet Trust and distribute any funds you have provided for your pet’s expenses and care. You may also want to name 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.

You need a plan in place for your pet

Don’t wait to make a plan for your pets. Make sure that they are protected even when you can’t be with them. Creating legal documents ensures that no matter what, your pet will be taken care of – even after you’re gone.

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