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If you are a pet parent, it’s important to include your pet in your estate plan. Of course, you can’t name your dog as the executor of your estate and, as we shared in another blog post about Pet Trusts, you can’t name your pet as the direct beneficiary of your assets and accounts. Still, taking simple steps can help give you peace of mind knowing that your furry friend will be well-cared for after your death.
This touching New York Times story illustrates the deep attachment many pet owners develop toward their cats and dogs. In this case, a dog managed to escape from a Montana hotel room while her “parents” were out. The border collie’s escape led to a 57-day search for her which, thankfully, had a happy ending when she was reunited with her humans. During that time period, though, the owners had to make some tough decisions, including quitting a job when the employer couldn’t provide the flexibility needed to search for the missing canine, and purchasing gear specifically designed to aid in their search.
When you sit down to create, or update, your estate plan, spend some time thinking about who you would want to care for your animal(s) if you were to suddenly not be there to provide care for them. Just as with naming a personal representative (executor), trustee, health care agent, and power of attorney, try to come up with at least one alternate/backup caregiver, in case the first-named person is unable or unwilling to care for your pet(s) when called on to do so.
Consider also the potential financial impact that caring for your pet(s) could have on the caregiver. Some pet parents choose to leave a set amount of money for the designated caregiver(s) to provide for those extra expenses during the pet(s) lifetime(s), as well as an additional amount of money as a “thank you” gift.
We can help you plan for your loved ones and your pets in your estate plan. To learn more, contact our office today!