What happens to your pet if something happens to you? Naming a pet guardian has become a regular part of the estate planning process for many. In this article, we’ll show you how to create an estate plan for your pets.
When a family crisis occurs, your pets can provide your family unconditional love and needed comfort. But, if you are no longer there to care for them, who will? Just like our children, we need to think about what happens to our pets if something happens to us.
Naming a Pet Guardian
While family and friends may certainly step in temporarily, they may not have the means or the ability to care for your pets long-term. It’s important to think about this and to discuss who is willing and able to care for your pets in the event of the unexpected. Sadly, without proper planning, many pets end up in a shelter, or worse. Many families wouldn’t ever consider this possibility so you can avoid this tragic situation with a little pre-planning.
Once you have determined who will be your pet guardian, it’s important to have all the details about their care, easy for the new pet parent to access. We offer our clients a unique APP that is designed to keep all the details about your estate plan, and your pets, in one easy to access place, from anywhere! You’ll be able to record details, and make changes, as your pets age and their needs change, including:
- Type of Pet along with the specific breed (include paperwork if applicable)
- Birthday (Can be an estimate if you’re not sure)
- Veterinarian Contact Info
- Health & Diet Needs and Requirements
- Favorite Activities/Toys/Treats
- Pet Insurance Info (If applicable)
- Pet Guardian Info and Instructions (example: How should this person gain access to your house and bring your pet to their new life?)
- Other Pertinent Info (example: Microchip info, Grooming tips, etc…)
If your pet has specific health requirements, medication, or boarding (such as a horse), you can establish a Pet Trust to ensure they are properly cared for, long after you’re gone. A Pet Trust is a living document that can help avoid many of the issues that can arise if you only have a Will. For example, if your estate is tied up in probate, someone will need to care for the pet, pay medical bills, obtain medications, etc. until the estate clears Probate Court. However, a Trust kicks in right away, so money can immediately begin to provide care without court approval. You can also direct that a certain sum of money is held in a trust account earmarked for the care of your pets, such as veterinarian bills, boarding, grooming, etc. Once the pets have passed, the balance in that account can be distributed to your heirs.
At Frame and Frame, we provide services, often to several generations of the same family, for thoughtful planning and during times of crises. We serve as your family’s lawyer and trusted advisor. Contact us today to discuss how to plan and protect your family for any situation.