Planning For Pets: How To Make Sure Your Pets Are Cared For Through An Estate Plan

Are you concerned about who will take care of your pets in the event that you pass on? This is a very real concern; many pets are shuttled off to animal control or the shelter after their owner passes, simply because no one knows what to do with them. Planning for pets is part of traditional estate planning and can be very important for the future health and welfare of your pets.

1. Choose Multiple Caretaker Options

The last thing you want to do is surprise someone with your dog when they really weren't expecting it. Make sure to make a list of at least two or three people who could take care of your pet when you're gone and list them in order of preference. Discuss the situation with them and make sure that they're on board. Otherwise, one of them may not be in a situation to adopt your pet at the time; they may be renting, or may have a new child. Update your list frequently. 

2. Make Out A Detailed Budget

How much does your pet truly cost you every month? You will need to provide enough money for your pet's care so that the person who is adopting it does not feel overburdened. Many pet owners aren't aware of how much their pet truly costs because the expenses fade into the background. Not only do you need to consider things like vet bills and pet food, but also you need to consider pet deposits and wear and tear. 

3. Create A Trust Fund For Your Pet

It may seem crazy, but a trust fund for your pet's expenses is the perfect way to make sure that the money is being spent on your pet. This isn't because you don't trust the person that is caring for your pet. A trust fund both makes budgeting easier and ensures that the person that you are entrusting with your beloved companion doesn't need to pay taxes on the money that they are going to spend pampering your pet. A trust fund will also follow your pet, should your pet need to be rehomed, with another trusted individual.

4. Don't Forget To Consider Your Entire Estate Plan

The bigger picture will be incredibly important. Make sure that you have an estate planning attorney go over your assets and your debts. If your debts overwhelm your assets, there will not be enough money for a trust fund for your pet--the debts are always taken out first. You may need to make alternative arrangements if this happens. Don't forget that life insurance policies are also included in estate plans and can be increased.

A lawyer can help you go over the above issues to make sure that your pets are properly taken care of. Pets are part of your family, and it stands to reason that they should be included in an estate plan, too.