Pets are family, so what would happen to your furry family member if they were to outlive you? No one likes to think about what happens when they die, but we urge you to use these tips for estate planning for pets. You need a plan to ensure your pet’s care even when you are no longer around to give it to them. If you have pets, it is important in determining the kind of care they will receive if they should outlive you. You also need to make plans for your pets’ care if you need to go to a nursing home or other long-term-care facility.

Decide Who You Want to Care for Your Pets

Probably the most important decision you’ll make when determining a posthumous plan is to decide who will care for your pets. Is there a spouse, sibling, friend, or child who would be willing and able to bring your pet into their life and care for them? Does this person have a living situation that lends itself well to caring for an animal?

If you want someone in your life to take over caring for your pet after your death, you must have a conversation with them about your wishes. Unless you can be certain that they are completely willing to take in your pet for the rest of the animal’s life, you should not expect them to step into the caregiver role. Ask about their views on pet care. Providing basic food and water is very different than loving and helping a pet thrive. Clear communication is the only way to ensure that your pets can get the care you want them to get once you can no longer give it to them.

Consider a Rescue or Caregiving Organization

If there is no one in your life who can take on the responsibility of taking in your pets, you might want to consider designating a rescue or caregiving organization. This list pulls together some amazing organizations that can care for your pet after your death. Some people want their pets to stay in their homes after they die. They set up a caregiver to move in and stay with the pet in the house. Research and consider your options to find the option that feels right for your pets.

Leaving Money as Part of Estate Planning for Pets

Whether you are leaving your pets in the loving care of a friend or family member or turning to a care organization, you may need to make financial decisions as part of your estate planning for pets. If necessary, you can make it a section in your will or create a pet trust that designates a certain amount of money to go to a caretaker. You cannot leave money or property directly to your pet, but you can set it aside for the person or persons who will be caring for the pet.

You might want to work with an attorney to do this so you can set aside money to account for all potential costs. You will need to consider basic everyday care plus medical care and burial or cremation costs. You may also want to provide money for pet insurance so that the person who is caring for your pets can provide the care they need.

Pet Trust vs. Putting Your Pets in Your Will

Putting your pets in your will tells the executor of your will what you want to happen regarding your pets’ care. But there are no legal protections for your pet. It will be completely up to the executor how they use any money you leave for your pet and what happens to them.

In contrast, a pet trust gives you full legal control over who is appointed to care for your pet, the care your pet receives and how the pet caregiver uses your money. A pet trust can also cover the time you are in a nursing home or in a long-term-care facility. Plus, it may be simpler to update than a will if you need to make changes.

At Westarbor Animal Hospital, we know how much you love your pets, and we love them too. We are here to offer high-quality veterinary care throughout every stage of their lives. As your partners in veterinary care, we will do whatever we can to create a happy life and environment for your animals. Call 734-769-5391 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

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