When you think about your last will and testament, some of the things you might consider are your children, your property and assets, and how these assets might be disseminated in the event of your passing. But have you considered what would happen to your pet?
We sometimes assume that our pets will go beyond the rainbow bridge before us, but this is not always the case. It is important to plan for your pet’s care and well-being should the unexpected happen. The team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital explores some of the reasons why including your pet in your will is something that will give you peace of mind.
Life’s Important Decisions
A will is something most of us should have, no matter what our financial circumstances, because it assures everyone involved that your wishes are being met posthumously. Having a will is a must for our pets, as they rely on us solely to provide for their care. In your will, one of the biggest choices you will make is electing a caretaker for your pet.
Choosing a caretaker is a careful, meaningful process. It should be someone you trust, who has committed to caring for your pet until they pass on. This caretaker might be a friend, family member, or an organization that works with pets whose owners are deceased. Much like choosing a legal guardian for your child, choosing a pet owner for your four-legged best friend is one of the most important decisions you will make.
Consider, too, the lifespan of your pet. Most cats and dogs can live on average 10-20 years of age. Small mammals like rabbits and guinea pigs live between 3-10 years. Avian and tortoise species can live very long lives, the equivalent of humans. Your chosen caretaker should be aware of these potential lifespans and be able to provide care for your pet through the years.
Creating a Pet Trust
Once you have assigned a caretaker in your will, you may wish to seek something more legally sound and specific for your pet’s care. This is where a pet trust comes in. A pet trust is a legal arrangement that specifies how your animal companion would be cared for and taken care of financially after your death.
In your estate planning, you will set up a separate trust for your pet, including naming the trustee. The trustee is someone who is financially responsible for handling the financial obligations of caring for your pet. The trustee may be the person you named as a caretaker, or it could be someone else.
The trust is designed to cover all of the following for your pet:
- Veterinary care
- Emergency care
- Food and pet supplies
- Boarding and daycare
Basically, the trust should allow for everything your pet needs for a good, happy life.
We understand that no one likes to think about what would happen should we die before our pets. However, this is sometimes a reality, and the best thing we can do for our beloved companions, is to have a plan for their care.
If you would like more information on including your pet in your will, or any other pet questions, please call us!