Estate Planning Tips for Ensuring Your Pets Are Properly Cared For… Christine’s Family Wealth Secrets

Hello,

I am feeling amazing after having the brilliant idea to work on our lawn yesterday. Despite being slightly sunburned, we mowed a reasonably substantial portion of our property. While I know this sounds like nothing special, having close to 2 acres means this is usually a HUGE spring job, taking weekend after weekend. That is because we are usually accomplishing this in May when the grass is hip high….and wet!! Although it rained a few days before, it seemed dry enough which turned out to be mostly true.  The property looks very green, smells like freshly cut grass and it really feels to me like spring.  We lost our gardener almost 2 years ago, and I have been too busy to get back on top of hiring someone.  The amount of time spent yesterday reminds me of why I need to get a professional gardener to make our yard look great again.

We are pet lovers indeed.  Between us we have 2 beloved pooches and  many kitties.  We know how important your pets are,  as part of your family. That is why when planning, you should really give thought to what would happen to your pets should something happen to you. A thorough plan provides for all members of the family, including your pets. Specifically setting forth what you do and don’t want to happen with your pets is crucial to ensure your furry pals are attended to and provided for. Making sure they never end up in a kill shelter, requires thoughtful and detailed planning. At Cava & Faulkner, we will make sure your  planning covers the bases so that your beloved pet will live a healthy,  long life.

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Christine

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Estate Planning Tips for Ensuring Your Pets Are Properly Cared For

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It’s sad but true that many pets end up in shelters after their owner dies or becomes incapacitated. In fact, the Humane Society estimates that between 100,00 to 500,000 pets are placed in shelters each year for exactly this reason, and a large number of these animals are ultimately euthanized. Whether we like it or not, the law considers pets to be nothing more than personal property just like cars, furniture, and electronic devices. In light of this cold reality, it’s vital that you provide for your pet’s future care through estate planning, so when you die or if you become incapacitated, your beloved friend won’t wind up in a shelter or worse. The following tips offer helpful advice to ensure your faithful companion receives the best possible care when you’re no longer able to do it yourself. Identify a new caregiver for your pet.

 Selecting a trustworthy caregiver is the first—and most important—step in protecting your pet(s) through estate planning. Many people assume their children, relatives, or friends will be suitable guardians, and these folks may even tell you as much in conversation. But the reality is, properly caring for most pets is a major commitment of time, emotion, and finances. It’s best to come up with a list of potential candidates, and then have a frank talk with each of them, discussing the extent of care your pet requires and whether they have any personal issues (allergies, housing, other pets) that might prevent them from providing the necessary care. If you don’t know any suitable caregivers, charitable groups, such as the Safe Haven® Surviving Pet Care Program, can provide for your pet in the event of your death or incapacity. Get it in writing Once you’ve chosen a guardian—along with one or two alternates in case something happens to your top choice—outline all of your pet’s care requirements, listing its health issues, dietary concerns, medications, etc. These requirements should be indicated within a properly drafted legal document to ensure that your wishes are properly carried out and enforceable. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you create a legally binding agreement detailing your pet’s specific needs, which can be easily added to your other estate planning documents.

    Provide funding for your pet’s continued care All pets have basic food, shelter, and medical needs, and these needs can be quite expensive, depending on the animal’s age and health. And if you’re like most pet owners, you probably want your pet to receive more than just the bare necessities, so it’s imperative that you leave enough money to cover all such expenses. Be sure to not only provide clear, detailed instructions on how your pet should be taken care of in your estate plan, but also include the necessary funding to cover these costs. And be sure you think about all of your pet’s future needs, including any extra services—grooming, boarding, and walking services—when calculating these expenses.

    Set up a pet trust Because pet care can be quite complicated and costly, the best way to ensure your wishes are properly carried out is to set up a pet trust. While it’s possible to leave care instructions and funding for your pet in a will, a will cannot guarantee the new caregiver will use the funds properly or even that they’ll care for your pet at all. Indeed, a person who’s left your pet in a will can simply drop the animal off at a local shelter and keep the money for themselves. A pet trust, on the other hand, allows you to lay out detailed rules for exactly how the trust’s funds can be used. To ensure your wishes are accurately carried out, you should name someone other than the caregiver as trustee, so this person can manage the funds and make sure they’re only used as spelled out by the rules you’ve created.

While leaving assets in a pet trust is fairly simple, creating a properly drafted trust that includes all of the necessary terms can be quite complex. Given this, you should work with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, to be certain that all of the necessary elements are in place to ensure your pet will continue to receive the love and care it deserves if you aren’t around to do it.   This article is a service of Christine Faulkner, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people/pets you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,  during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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