If your definition of family includes a beloved pet, keep reading. Maybe it's your child's canine playmate, a kitty companion to an elderly widow or the family's proud horse. Regardless of the origin or relationship, your pet is a member of your family and dependent on your for all its needs. If anything were to happen to you, can you be assured that your pet would be well-cared for?
Many families are asking me this question. When they create an estate plan to provide for their loved ones, they ask what they can do to provide for their animal dependents as well. Who will care for the animal(s)? Will your pets visit you if you are incapacitated?
Like estate planning in general, the options when it comes to planning for your pet are many and varied. You may create a simple letter of instructions nominating caretakers or a more solid Pet Trust to provide financial support.
However you choose to put the pieces together, the most important component in providing for your pet is choosing a trustee and caretaker who understand and respect your wishes. Having people you trust in those roles are your best insurance.
Pets don't have the same rights as people. This means it's essential that you, the owner, anticipate their needs and provide for them in case of your incapacity or death. No one else will. You pets cannot advocate for themselves. The nomination of a caretaker and a Pet Trust to provide financial support and a clear expression of your wishes is the best insurance you can give your pet.