Have you already created your estate plan? What about your family pet? When you have a furry or feathered friend who has become an irreplaceable part of your family, you need to plan for your pet’s future, too. Without you, your pet will not have anyone to continue to provide his or her care, unless you have a plan. There are a few options, when it comes to pet estate planning. A pet protection agreement is one of those options.
Benefits of a pet protection agreement
A pet protection agreement is a simple, less expensive choice for pet owners. Like a more formal pet trust, a pet protection agreement allows you to decide who you want to be your pet’s caregiver, if ever you become unable to continue to provide care. A pet protection agreement also allows you to provide detailed instructions regarding the care you and your pet expect. Unlike a will, a pet protection agreement can be drafted so that it becomes effective in the event of incapacity, not just death.
Designate a caregiver for your pet
The first requirement for a proper pet protection agreement is the designation of your pet’s future caregiver. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly, because your chosen caregiver will serve as your pet’s guardian and assume all responsibility for the well-being of your pet. You should also name an alternative caregiver, in case your original choice is unable to take on the role. You can also identify an organization of last resort, to ensure that your pet will be placed in a home, instead of being surrendered to a shelter.
The benefit of a pet protection agreement, over simple provisions in your will, is that the agreement is essentially a contract. The caregiver is required to sign the agreement, which makes him or her legally bound by the terms it contains. A will, on the other hand, does not create any legal obligation to care for your pet. Instead, the will only distributes the pet as another piece of property.
Establish financial support
Although establishing financial resources for your pet’s future care is optional, it is a very good idea. Your pet’s caregiver will certainly appreciate the assistance. In order to estimate the amount of funds needed, think about the number of pets you have, as well as their current age and life expectancy. Also consider any current health or medication needs.
You may also want to consider leaving money to cover the lifestyle and socialization needs of your pet. After you have determined a reasonable amount, your estate planning attorney will be able to help you decide the best way to make the funds available, such as a trust or investment product.
Instructions for medical care and end of life wishes
Remember to include any necessary information pertaining to your pet’s medical conditions, along with medication that he or she needs to take regularly. Including the contact information for your veterinarian is a must. Finally, if you have any specific wishes regarding your pet’s end of life care, that can be included as well.
If you have questions regarding pet protection agreements, or any other pet estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (301) 337-7696.