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  • Writer's pictureRuth-Ann E. Toups

Estate Planning for Your Pets

Do you have a furry friend at home? If so, have you thought about what would happen to your pet if you were seriously injured or died? While death and disability are never fun to think about, it is important to make a plan for your pets too.

First, consider what would happen if you were injured away from your home. Would someone know your pet is at home alone? A great solution is a credit card sized notice that can be kept in your wallet near your driver’s license. If you have an emergency, it is likely the card will be found. These cards are available online, or you can create your own using a heavy weight paper. Remember to make the text on the front large, detail any special needs your pet might have, and include phone numbers of at least one person who would be willing to watch your pet.

Second, consider what would happen if you have a home emergency such as a flood or fire. Similar to wallet cards, there are products available online to alert first responders about your pet. These usually are window stickers that can be placed near your front door. You may also elect to create this yourself. It is important to make an evacuation plan that incorporates your pets as well. Be sure crates and leashes are easily accessible and consider assigning each family member a pet they are responsible for in case of emergency.

Finally, consider what would happen to your pet if you die. Is there someone who would be willing to care for your pet? If so, it is important to speak with this person about the arrangement and put it in writing. Is there a local rescue organization that could help temporarily foster and find a permanent home for your furry friend? If so, it is important to have an agreement in writing reflecting this.

If your pet requires a great deal of time or expense to care for, such as large and exotic pets, you may wish to provide for that pet in your will or trust. This can be done either through a specific bequest or a pet trust. A specific bequest leaves a sum of money and your pet to a person of your choice. A pet trust leaves a sum of money to a person that can only be used for the benefit of the pet under the supervision of a trustee. A pet trust can be a wonderful tool to ensure your pet is cared for in the way you desire after your death. However, pet trusts can make the administration of your estate more complex. To learn more and to determine which option is best for you and your furry friend consult with your attorney.

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