Planning for a pet can be overlooked in the estate planning process. Here is a question though: Do you know who would care for your dog, cat, horse or other beloved animal? Would this person have the resources to pay for associated costs of care?
Too many animals end up in a shelter after ‘their person’ passes away. These pets are often older and can be difficult to place in a new home. Avoid this with a pet plan.
From basic considerations to the more advanced
One part of responsible pet ownership, regardless of your age, is having a plan in place if anything unexpected ever happened to you. The first step is to name a guardian, and possibly a backup guardian, who would agree to step in and care if you are no longer able.
Have a conversation with the person you are considering. A neighbor who has always agreed to look after a cat may not be willing to take on the role full-time if something happened to you. Of course, maybe they will. Do not list a guardian until you know.
These become more complex, if your lovable English Bulldog has ailments that lead to large veterinarian bills. You may want to leave resources to pay for grooming, visits to the vet, food and medicine costs. Doing so through a will may not be the best approach, because you lose control over how funds are spent.
Creating a trust allows you to leave instructions for a trustee on how to spend money.
You may limit expenditures to those things that enrich your pet’s life. If this is too broad, you can use language that is more specific. An estate planning attorney can help with the specifics and create a tailored solution that meets your needs.