When making estate planning decisions, sadly, many people forget to make provisions for their pets. While we may consider them part of our families, they are considered tangible personal property under the law. They will be placed in the care of whoever is named to receive personal effects in a will, regardless of whether that person is willing or able to care for them. Even more troubling is the fact that very few people make legal arrangements for their pets in the event they become incompentent.
Estate planning allows people to make arrangements for their pets after death, or if they become incompetent. A Durable Power of Attorney can name a caretaker for a pet during the owner’s incompetency and provide financial support for that care. In addition, it lets the veterinarian know that the person named has the authority to make decisions, ensuring continuity of care. A will or trust can also name a person to care for a pet for the remainder of the pet’s life, and provide financial support for that care.
When choosing the caregiver, consider how well the pet knows the person. Ask the person you are considering if he/she is willing to take on that responsibility, and decide what amount of money you think is appropriate to set aside for care. A discussion with your veterinarian should help you regarding that decision, since it is particular to your pet. Once you have named the person in your estate planning documents, you should inform the veterinarian of who you have named so he/she can note that information in your pet’s medical file.
Our pets provide unconditional love to us. Knowing that they will be loved and cared for when we are unable to care for them can be a relief and comfort during difficult times.
Posted May 2016
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