Pets have many benefits such as providing companionship, encouraging more exercise, and improving overall well-being. Unfortunately, it is an often-overlooked area in people’s estate plan. Many people do not prepare for the chance their pets outlive them. Their children or other heirs may not be prepared or understand what the wishes are for their pets. Pets are an important part of people’s families and there are a number of steps to ensure they are taken care of if their owner passes away. People want peace of mind.
Identify the alternate pet caretaker
Plan ahead. Ask someone in advance if they would be willing to take your pets if you die or are no longer able to care for them. If your primary choice is unable or declines, always have a backup.
Talk with an estate planning attorney
Your estate planning attorney can walk you through your options available to provide for your pet caretaker upon your death. Funds could be left outright in your Last Will and Testament or the caretaker could be left as a beneficiary on a retirement account or life insurance policy. You could also create a Trust to be funded upon your death that would provide care direction and ongoing financial needs to your pet caretaker. However, be cautious of the ongoing costs and tax filing requirements of an ongoing Trust. The costs may outweigh the benefits.
Determine what financial resources will be required
Inform your pet caretaker how you will provide the necessary financial resources to care for your pet. You could leave outright a sum of money to the caretaker upon your death, or even take it a step further by working with and estate planning attorney to create a Trust that will dictate the type of care and the funds available to provide the care.
Leave specific instructions
Please write out and share with your caretaker food types, favorite toys, any medical issues, medications, and veterinarian information. Also, don’t forget to let your veterinarian know who will be caring for your pets when you can no longer do so. Additionally, please let your family and other heirs know of your intentions. By thoughtful planning you can avoid any potential conflicts.
At Total Wealth Planning we help our clients every day answer these important and at times stressful questions. Who’s helping you?
Financial planning is complex and requires the guidance of a trusted and experienced advisor, such as a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), who plans comprehensively, and with a complete understanding of your particular concerns and goals in life.