For many people, a pet is considered a member of the family. The way a pet is thought about and cared for is not much different than how we'd think or care for a human family member.
As we inevitably begin to age, making arrangements for what is to become of our estate is something we all have to do. Have you considered what needs to be done when it comes to your pets and estate planning?
Including your pet into this process is important. Just as you make arrangements for how you want to be cared for, you may take the same amount of time and care to consider what should happen to your pets.
Why It's Important to Include Pets in Estate Planning
Believe it or not, when it comes to estate planning, even the biggest animal-loving pet owners accidentally forget to include furry companions in their plans.
This can often lead to confusion for the heir of the estate, and when it comes to taking on an animal, that person may not be in the best position to do so. This, unfortunately, can lead to some beloved pets to wind up in a shelter or even abandoned.
That's why for your peace of mind, and for the person inheriting or managing your estate, mapping out a plan for your pet is the best route to go.
When thinking of how to include your pets and estate planning into one, consider this as taking the same legal steps you are with the rest of your likeness and belongings. Who will be responsible for taking care of your pet in the event that they outlive you?
When beginning to take these steps, the immediate people you may turn to are family members or close friends. You should be looking for someone who is willing to take on your pet or pets and understands all the expectations that come with it.
Someone who is hesitant may not be the best fit. It's a lot to take on the responsibility of an animal, and if that person is unsure if they can or want to provide the quality of care you are seeking, it is best to look elsewhere.
If You Are a Pet Owner, You Need to Think About This
No matter how young or old you are, all pet owners need to consider who will legally take care of their animals if something were to happen to them.
While younger people may not consider having a will, there are other options out there to ensure your pet gets the proper care it needs in the event something happens to you while they are still alive.
While you could consider a living will, sometimes it takes time to sort out all of the belongings and property, which, in some cases, your animal may fall under. That's why having a different type of agreement may actually be a better fit.
Tips to Ensure Your Pet Has a Good Home
As mentioned above, there is only so much asking a family member, friend, or other close acquaintance can do for you in the event you die and your pet outlives you.
While pets are considered property in many states - even though they mean much more than that to you - leaving them to someone in a will can actually take a long time to process.
In order to ensure your pet has a good home, consider some of the following alternatives you can do instead of leaving your companion in a will or by verbal agreement.
- Pet Trust - A pet trust is a legal agreement that ownership of the animal transfers once the current provider can no longer care for them. This might occur when the owner becomes too elderly or passes while their pet is still alive. There will be a payment or set amount of money that goes to the new owner to cover expenses for the animal's care.
- Humane Society - In the rarity you do not have a caretaker lined up, some people will decide to leave their pet to a local no-kill shelter with a substantial donation. The shelter can then find a proper home for the pet.
- Pet Protection Agreement - This is an agreement with the new pet guardian and owner that in the event the current pet owner cannot care for the animal - hospitalization, etc. - the guardian is aware and will take the pet and accept all responsibility that goes with it.
Regardless of what you decide, in order to ensure your pet has care after your death, remembering to include them in your estate planning is an easy way to guarantee they will be taken care of after your death.