If you are someone that has pets, then there’s a pretty good chance that you view them as just another family member, who also needs to be taken care of. Sadly, many people, even the most dedicated and responsible pet owners, forget to include their pets in their estate plan. If your pet is relying on you on a day-to-day basis, as they should be, and something were to happen to you, then they will need a new home and an owner to take care of them. Many pets have a shorter life span compared to their humans, however, it’s possible for a pet to live longer than their owner. Animals are living beings after all, and should be included in your estate plan along with your other family members.
As a Bozeman estate planning attorney explains, one of the simplest ways to provide for your pet in the event that you pass away is to name a guardian in your estate plan. When you appoint someone as the next guardian, you are basically allowing them to start caring for your pet immediately if anything were to happen to you. You also may want to go further in-depth than just appointing a guardian. Even if your caretaker wants what is best for them too, they may not have the financial means or knowledge on how to take care of your pet. You can choose to set aside money for your pet, that this new guardian would use to take care of them. You can leave behind instructions and recommendations for things like veterinary care, medications, brand of food, frequency of feeding, medical conditions, behavioral considerations, personality traits, and so much more.
When establishing an estate plan that includes the well-being of your pet, you have to think not just about your pet’s needs, but the long-term financial demands that can be associated with care. For example, you may need to talk with an estate planning attorney about your pet’s age and expected lifespan, the type of animal that you’re creating a trust for and if there are any species-specific needs, the costs related to feeding, how often they need to go to the vet, and other expenses or information required to properly care for the pet.
The person that you choose as a guardian will need to do more than simply feed and house your animal. If you consider your pet as a beloved member of your family, then it needs to receive the same love that you had given them while you were alive. The person that you choose to be their guardian should be someone who has the time and motivation to care for your pet as well as you would, and they should be willing to assume this role on a short notice if needed. As the team at Silverman Law Office, PLLC advises, you should speak with your chosen guardian beforehand, to make sure that they are okay with having this responsibility if or when the time comes.