Perhaps you envision the Bridget Jones’s Diary scenario where no one discovers the body for a few weeks and the animals start to get hungry. Or, you’ve heard about the wealthy eccentric leaving millions to little Pookie – to allow them to continue living in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. The truth is, regardless of circumstance, there’s just one more furry little creature that needs a loving home.
When we think about writing our wills, we consider our homes and money as our most prized possessions… and many people overlook the importance of planning for their pets. Our furry friends are members of the family, so it’s important – both for our peace of mind and their well-being – to take some time to consider what will happen to them after we’re gone.
Finding a willing guardian
We expect to outlive our pets. After all, unless you own a parrot or a tortoise, your pet’s lifespan is likely considerably shorter than yours. But just as responsible parents plan for their children’s well-being, so too, should a responsible pet owner have a plan in mind for what will happen to their beloved furkid in case they’re not around.
When including your pet in your will, be sure to provide as much information about them as possible, including name, breed, age and a detailed description, advises The Epoch Times. It’s also wise to include information about your pet’s preferences and routines. You should speak to your chosen guardian before appointing them. Make sure they are willing and able to take on the challenge of pet ownership; in fact, you may want to name two or more potential guardians in case one falls through.
In case of emergency, call…
Of course, it’s not only your passing that may leave you unable to care for your furbabies. Petfinder recommends having at least two emergency caregivers on call in case you’re in an accident or become seriously ill.
Provide your standby caregivers with keys and instructions, and carry a small emergency card in your wallet with their names and telephone numbers, along with a request that they be contacted should something happen to you. It’s also a good idea to make sure your neighbours and family know how many and what types of pets you have in your home, so that none are forgotten if you’re not there to look after them.
Planning for food, grooming and vet costs
Caring for animals can be costly. You may have the perfect pet guardian in mind, but what if they can’t afford the food and vet costs of looking after your beloved Fluffy? That’s where a pet trust may come in handy. A pet trust is a legal arrangement that can provide ongoing payments to cover the cost of the animal’s care. Or you can bequeath a lump sum to your pet guardian. You’ll need to talk to a lawyer to find out how pet trusts work in your area, but the ASPCA has a primer that covers the basic details.
It may seem a bit of a downer thinking about your pets getting on without you, but a bit of pre-planning can really give you some peace of mind. And in the case of accident or illness, it means one less thing you need to worry about on the road to recovery. Laws regarding wills and trusts vary from region to region, so you should talk to a lawyer to make sure your furballs are properly and legally protected. Then you can relax and enjoy your time together, knowing they’ll be lovingly looked after, no matter what life brings your way.