Many of us consider our pets an important part of our family and worry about their care and well-being when we are no longer able to make decisions about their care.
As animal lovers ourselves, we have worked with many clients over the years to protect their pets. Here are some options to consider:
- Care during Incapacity – Execute a Durable Power of Attorney for Pet Care. If you find yourself in a situation where you will be unable to make decisions about your pets (for example, you experience injury or an illness, or you are traveling or are otherwise unavailable to make pet care decisions), you may opt to have a Durable Power of Attorney for Pet, to appoint an agent/representative to make decisions on your behalf. This document can include directives with respect to the following items:
- Pre-arrangements with a third-party for pet care;
- Initial and alternate agents to serve in this role;
- Placement with a new owner;
- Financial responsibility for care and other expenses;
- End of life decisions; and
- Disposition of remains.
- Providing for Care After your Death – Include Provisions in your Will or Trust. Another useful planning option for pets is the inclusion of a provision in your estate plan for the establishment of a trust benefiting your pets when you are gone. The options for a pet trust are vast and can include funding mechanisms, instructions for caregivers, oversight of the caregiver, funds for veterinary expenses, and the management of resources for the current or future generations of pets (if permitted in your jurisdiction).
- Special Notes to Agents/Representative – Tell them what you want! Another option we often provide to pet owners is the inclusion of a worksheet in your estate planning notebook so you can write out special considerations for your pets, including but not limited to the following:
- Biographical information (which can include a license or micro-chip ID, if applicable);
- Pet personality and behavior considerations;
- Food preferences;
- Favorite toys and activities; and
- Additional information on general care, including exercise routines, veterinary care, medication (including allergies), vaccination records, pet insurance, and other important information you would like to share with others.
In our experience, plans for pets are like fingerprints, there are no two alike. Ensuring for the future care of your pet can be an important part of a pet owner’s plan.