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Estate Planning for Your Pets

Posted on November 23 2016

Many pet owners assume that they will outlive their pets since they have shorter life spans than their human companions. But, what if an accident happens? Or something unfortunate that will separate you from them? Are you prepared?

One of the tasks of a responsible pet owner is preparing for the future and scenarios that can catch you and your pet off guard. Aside from providing your furry friend with food, water, shelter, medical care and lots of love, you also need to ensure their welfare if something unexpected  happens to you.

Estate planning for your pets may be a hard subject to discuss but is as important as providing care and love for them at the present.  Preparing these things is not about being paranoid or being dramatic, it’s being responsible and prepared for uncertainty in life.

So what should you do today?

Short Term and Temporary Precautions:

Assign Pet Guardians

Find at least two friends or family members who agree to serve as emergency caregivers of your pets temporarily if something unexpected happens to you. Provide them with all the important information regarding the care for your pets, veterinarian contact information and make sure they have access to your house in case of emergency.

Let your neighbors know what to do

Inform your neighbors what to do if the emergency situation will occur, and what steps to follow. Provide them the information of your assigned temporary pet parents and let them know how to contact them. Ask them if they will be willing to serve as temporary caregivers until your assigned people arrives.

Carry an ‘Alert Card’

A wallet alert card is a notice that gives the information on who to call for your pet’s welfare in cases of emergency.

Post ‘In Case of Emergency’ signage on your gates, doors or windows

These removable notices will alert emergency-response personnel during a fire or other home emergency. You can purchase them at a pet store or online. Using stickers is not ideal since some firefighters and emergency response team members assume that it is outdated, left behind by a former resident of the house.

Long Term Plans:

Legally speaking, pets are classified as property. But since most pet owners treat them like friends and family, they fail to prepare legal actions that will benefit their furry companion  long term.

Only legally enforceable documents can guarantee a pet’s secure future even without you by their side. The idea of legally enforceable documents that ensure companion animals’ continuing care is a new prospect, but more and more people consider their pets important family members and care about them as much as about their human relatives.

Since there are too many cases of neglected pets after their owners passed away, this matter should be openly discussed and pet owners should be aware of the things they can do today for their pet’s future without them.

Here are some of the legal preparations you can arrange for your pets today:

Include them in your Will

 Wills are designed not just to write down your wishes when it comes to the properties and physical items they can  cover people and your pets as well.You can leave detail instructions and distribute your funds,leaving some for the future care of your pet and also assign a trustee( not necessary the pet guardian) to distribute the money accordingly to your wishes.

Get them a Pet Trust

Because wills are not enacted immediately; make no provisions for incapacity; and Pet provisions in a will may be “honorary,” it would be a great  supplement to a Pet Trust.

A Pet Trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement providing for the care and maintenance of one or more companion animals in the event of a grantor’s disability or death.

Typically, a trustee will hold property or cash, “in trust” for the benefit of the grantor’s pets.  Payments to a designated caregiver(s) will be made on a regular basis. The trust, depending upon the state in which it is established, will continue for the life of the pet or 21 years, whichever occurs first.

Our time on this earth is unknown and many people die without preparation. Knowing what to do today will definitely make it easier for the ones you will leave behind, your loving pets included.

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