Picture this scenario… You’re going on a cruise and will be gone for several weeks. Your black lab, Fritz, can’t come along on the cruise and you decide to leave him with a trusted friend. We all love our pets and for many of us, leaving them behind is like leaving a family member behind. What if something happens? What if neither your friend nor Fritz’s vet can reach you?
This is why you need a Pet Power of Attorney – a ll document that gives authority to the caregiver of your pet ensuring your wishes are carried out.
What is a Pet Power of Attorney?
Just like a Power of Attorney you would create for your own protection; a Pet Power of Attorney allows you (known as the grantor or principal) to choose a person (known as the agent) you trust to act on your behalf to make decisions for the care of your pet. The person you appoint is required to follow directives and instructions you list in the document, and based on the limitations you set, can make financial decisions such as authorizing a medical treatment for your pet on your behalf.
The Pet Power of Attorney kicks into action if you become ill and are not able to care for or make decisions for your beloved pet. It can also go into effect if you are going away and have a pet sitter or friend taking care of your furry or feathered companion, and you grant them this authority for the duration of your absence.
If you have more than one pet, you can list each one by name and its respective care instructions. You can also appoint more than one caregiver – such as naming different caregivers for different pets – and you can name backup caregivers; should your initial choice not be able to serve, it’s best to have an alternative that can step in.
Related Article: How to Stop Worrying About My Pet(s) While I’m on Vacation
When creating the document, think of exactly the type of care you want your pet to have. List any medications, routines, and veterinarian contact. Once you created the Pet Power of Attorney, it should be notarized. It then should be safely stored in a place you and your pet’s caregiver can access easily, such as in the Gentreo Digital Family Vault.
Reasons You Need a Pet Power of Attorney
The Pet Power of Attorney is all about protecting the welfare of your pet in the event you cannot care for it. The law does not recognize pets as members of the family as us pet lovers do; legally, they are property and have no legal rights. For example, you cannot leave money or assets to your pet in your Will.
That’s why the Pet Power of Attorney is so important. It grants authority to a person of your choosing to take care of your special friend if you cannot.
The document allows you to:
- Uphold your care choices – Have peace of mind knowing your choices for your pet’s care will be followed.
- Provide specific care instructions – Grooming, feeding, exercise, and routines.
- List the types of food and treats your pet enjoys – You may want your pet to have specific foods, treats or brand names.
- Authorize your agent to approve veterinary care – Your agent can authorize medical treatment for your pet in the event of an emergency. Vets will often not perform emergency treatment without proper authorization.
- List medical treatments – You can specify the type of medical treatments you would or not want your pet to have. Also, you can include choices for end-of-life treatment and burial or cremation.
- Set spending limits – List the maximum amount of money you want to spend on medical or other care.
- Give limited or broad powers to your agent – There are two types of Pet Power of Attorney: limited and durable. The limited option would restrict the agent’s authority and sets an expiration date of the document. This would be for if you are going away and returning after a specific time. Durable gives broad powers and does not have an end date. If you became incapacitated or pass away, the Durable Pet Power of Attorney is in effect indefinitely.
Related Article: Understanding a Limited or Durable Pet Power of Attorney
8. Have the agent oversee a caregiver – The agent does not have to be the caregiver. If someone else is caring for your pet, the agent is responsible for overseeing the caregiver and that your instructions are being honored.
Estate Planning for Pets
The Pet Power of Attorney should be part of a pet estate plan along with a Pet Trust.
A Pet Trust can be set up to provide funding for the care of your pet and work with the Pet Power of Attorney. It’s possible your pet could outlive you. In this case, the Pet Trust and Durable Pet Power of Attorney ensure seamless care for your pet after your passing.
As mentioned, you cannot leave assets to your pet in your Will. However, you can bequeath your pet to a beneficiary you name in the Will; someone you know and trust that will take care of your companion.
The emergency card contains your name, address, pet’s name, and emergency contact info that you carry with you. If you are injured, emergency responders can get in touch with the emergency contact so your pet will be cared for.
You can share your Pet Information Sheet with a pet sitter or kennel, so everyone caring for your pet has all the information they would need.
Protect your pet with a Pet Power of Attorney, part of a comprehensive pet estate plan from Gentreo.