Does your estate planning account for your furry, scaly or feathered loved ones? If you are severely injured or die unexpectedly, have you decided what you would like to happen to your pets? Without a clear plan in place, your pets could end up in the wrong hands.
It is a sad fact that wonderful pets can end up in horrible situations if their owner dies. Too often there is no sibling or child to take them and they end up living out their days in an animal shelter, passed over for adoption because of their age or medical condition. In the face of an unexpected tragedy or financial burden, it is important that you include all your loved ones in your estate plan, big or small, four legs, two legs, or none.
Does your pet need specialized care?
Not all do-it-yourself wills include plans for pets, let alone those with special needs. If you own a pet with special needs, it is an especially good idea to make special provisions for them to provide for their long-term health and happiness. This includes the following:
- A list of people in order of preference that you would like to inherit your pet(s)
- An account that should be used to fund medical expenses
- An expense limit and what should happen if funds run out
- A medical directive for your pet
- A list of medications and your pet’s pharmacy, regular vet office or hospital
If you own non-traditional, multiple or large pets (such as exotic fish, exotic birds, horses, alpacas, pigs, etc.) a will is especially important for them. The average person may not know how to care for these animals, or how to deliver their medications.
Does the inheritor have all the tools they will need?
Be sure that the person who inherits your animal also inherits any necessary equipment to transport, feed or clean them. This includes any trailers, cages, gates, tanks, hoses, cleaning products or other tools necessary. These may need adapters, platforms, stands, or other equipment the person will need to care for your animal.
If your pet would be happiest on the property where they currently reside, it may be wise to will the property as well as the pet to the same person or to people who could work well together. This might take extra time and consideration, but may be well worth it. Your animal’s health, safety and happiness could be at stake.