Plan For The Future Care of Your Pets

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This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts.

 

What are your plans for pets

Dear Friends, I just have to bring this subject to your attention. It doesn’t matter what breed of cat or dog or how even how many pets you may have in your household. Please read this. You will be glad you did.

 

This is my question to you…..

 

What are your plans for your pets if something happens to you?

Because this is becoming a very common problem, I have started looking for some ideas that may help some pet owners resolve this issue in a happy way. I do believe I have found some unique ideas that may help fulfill your wishes.

So many people I talk to say their family will take in their pets if something happens to them. Really?
While that is a very common answer, this sends shudders up my spine…. Reality checks needed… just ask the shelters and the rescues how many family pets land up on their doorsteps because of family members. No I am not saying this is what the family members wanted. But sometimes they may know what else to do.
First, while your family member truly have meant that they would provide a caring safe home for you beloved companion pet(s), there is some things you really need to think about.
Second, with time, things change for all of us; consider this short list below of the many “normal” changes that may make that promise to you, not so reliable… You might want to have a plan B.

What am I talking about?

Your unmarried adult child suddenly marries and the spouse hates your dog or already has three of their own. The place where your family lives will not allow animals, or their kids are allergic to pets. None can be in the house. Your family will take the dog, but they are never home they are on the road all the time. The family member has children with behavior problems and have been known to be cruel to their pets. Sure one dog is always welcome but you have three and you don’t want them split up. Well yes there are some medical issues, but the meds only cost a $100 a month. Poor Poopsie is blind and or deaf. Your sweetie-pie hates cats and has been known to kill them; your daughter has cats and will not give them up just for your dog. The family is moving overseas. The family just lost their job. The spouse is very sick and in and out of the hospital.

THIS IS NOT GOOD SO WHAT CAN YOU DO!!!!

“Leaving Millions to your dog in your will, may not Benefit the Dog” -The law sees animals as property so they have no legal rights and humans especially your relatives would have a stronger case to question the will and may not choose to follow your intent. So who is going to make sure your dog/cat’s money is actually spent with your intended wishes?

“Setting up a Trust Might”. At least Forty-two states and the District of Columbia now have laws that specifically authorize the creation of trusts for the care of pets. That’s up from 16 states in 2003. whereas traditionally pets are considered property and, as such, can’t inherit anything. However, all states allow conditional gifts that let a person leave money to a beneficiary on the condition that he cares for the pet after the owner’s death. It has been recommended to include details, such as naming a trustee (and alternates), stating how the money should be doled out and specifying what should be done with any leftover cash. Be sure to name both your preferred and alternate caregivers too. What if your sister’s Yorkshire Terrier puppy doesn’t get along with your aging Shih Tzu?

But there are risks in such an arrangement. If, for example, the caretaker stands to inherit everything left at the animal’s death, he could have an interest in seeing that the animal’s life is short. People can be unreliable both by character and life’s vicissitudes.

Lawyers who draft pet plans like to separate the pet care from the money as in conditional gifts in a trust under which the trustee gets both the money and the pet, and then delivers the pet to a separate caretaker. The trustee controls the purse strings and can make sure the pet is being treated well. This, of course, requires the services of a lawyer, and more and more lawyers are up on such arrangements. If a large amount of money is involved, consider having a lawyer draw up a custom-designed pet trust, so long as it fits within the guidelines of your state’s law. This allows you to control even more details, including your preferred groomer, breeding instructions, type of food and exercise to be provided and burial or cremation instructions for the pet.

Examples:

The trust provided that the client’s doorman/caregiver was to inherit what was left in the trust after the feline’s death, so long as the cat had died of natural causes. To ensure no foul play, Nass, the trustee, arranged for an autopsy on Ming (yes, it was natural causes, and the doorman got his cash).

You can fund a pet trust either through your will or while you’re alive. Doing it in your will is the cheapest-possibly minimal or no extra cost if you’re writing a new will and your pet pre deceases you. The advantage of creating and funding a trust while you’re alive is that it can kick in if you become permanently disabled and are unable to care for your pet yourself.

Another idea: is to leave your pet–and a bequest-to a friend in your will. Nass has a client whose will leaves $200,000 and a horse to a former girlfriend. “The horse comes with a dowry,” he quips. If you choose to leave a bequest, you must decide if you want to make it conditional-meaning that the caretaker only gets the money if the pet is still living at your death.

Some people are taking advantage of institutions set up to take care of pet survivors. A special program developed by the SPCA of Texas will put pets in a “life care cottage” with a gift of $25,000 for each cat to $50,000 for larger animals. No cash is required up front; these are designated bequests in wills. It would be well to inquire about local facilities of that kind. Life insurance to fund care of pets can be a relatively inexpensive way to handle costs. Some veterinary schools and no-kill shelters have continuing pet care programs. In these programs, the pets either live the rest of their lives on site in posh digs, or are adopted out or put in “foster care.” These programs typically require you to pay an enrollment fee of around $1,000 and to fund an endowment of $10,000 and up-currently, or as a bequest in your will. (If you make the contribution now you may be able to deduct part of it-the amount above the projected cost of caring for your pet.)

A last consideration for pet owners is to make sure human survivors know a pet has been left behind. A special ID in your wallet that states a pet is at home and in need of care may help. Being in touch with individual pet lovers in your own network and getting to know animal rescue groups and people in your neighborhood may be the best way to insure your pet’s wellbeing, both through their own participation and care facilities that they know about. Common-sense check: Informal arrangements are just as important as what you might spell out in legal documents. One problem with leaving all the instructions in your will is that pets need immediate care and there could be a lapse in time before your will is read. So pick temporary emergency caregivers nearby who can step in if you’re incapacitated. In fact, particularly if you live alone, make sure to carry a card in your wallet that lists your name, the number and kind of pets in your home and numbers for emergency pet caregivers.

In addition, you need to update your plan if you move, marry, divorce or have children. Out-of-date documents can lead to trouble.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 200,000 single people die each year owning one or more pets, without a plan in place for their care. “It’s simple for people to set up some process where they can have the peace of mind that the animal will be cared for by a trusted person and not just leave the issue to chance.”

Written by Donna

Re-positing of this article is done with the permission of Donna Curtin of the Boston Terrier Network — full of Boston Terrier and canine information, news, and adoptables. Copyright © 2016. Boston Terrier Network