Do You Know How to Plan for Your Pet’s Care After Your Passing?

By: VGFS
Sunday, April 10, 2022

What would happen to your pet if you passed away unexpectedly?

Without a plan in place, the results can be tragic. Part of responsible pet ownership includes taking the necessary steps to ensure that your four-legged family members will be cared for if you were to become incapacitated or pass away. Seniors and those who are chronically ill may have formulated pet plans as part of their estate and legacy preparations. But unfortunate events and illnesses can happen to anyone, so pet owners of every age should create a care plan.

Here are four key steps to ensure that your beloved animals will always receive the attention they need and deserve.

Who will take care of your pet immediately after your passing?

This designated individual will care for your animals for a short while until they go to their permanent homes. Because they’re essentially providing emergency care if something should happen to you, your selection should be discussed with them in advance. You should also provide interim caretakers with access to your home, specific caregiving instructions, and the contact information for your veterinarian. Be sure to share any plans you have for the permanent placement of your pets, too. Making these basic arrangements will also be helpful if you are temporarily hospitalized or face an emergency that requires you to be away from home for an extended period of time.

Choose a permanent caretaker.

If you have a friend or family member whom you trust implicitly with the care of your pets, you are fortunate. This person might be the same as your emergency caregiver or an entirely different individual. Think about the circumstances of your closest friends and family members. Who would have the time to walk your dog every day? Who has the patience and skill to give your cat a pill? Who spends enough time at home to help your pet through its grieving process? When choosing a permanent caregiver or guardian, think about how that person has interacted with your animals in the past. You should also consider their opinions on pet care and euthanasia and whether those beliefs align with yours. It’s important to note that, while you can outline instructions for the care of your pet after your death, you can’t control every choice a caregiver makes once you’re gone. That’s why it’s so important to choose someone whose caregiving values are similar to yours. Name an alternate, too, in case your first choice predeceases you or their circumstances change.  

Include provisions in your will.

Even if you make verbal or written agreements with your family or friends regarding the care of your pets, it’s not binding unless it’s outlined in your will. In this legal document, you should list the permanent adopter of your animals as well as any additional provisions you’ve set aside. When you create a will, you’ll assign an executor who is responsible for ensuring your instructions are carried out according to your wishes. This individual should be trustworthy and you should feel confident that they will act in your best interest and the best interest of your pets. It’s wise to authorize your executor to withdraw designated pet care funds from your estate. If they have to be rehomed or transported to another location, allocate funds to cover those costs, as well.

Tie up loose ends with a pet trust.

Unlike a will, which allows you to leave money to someone to care for your pet but doesn’t obligate them to use the funds as you’ve specified, a pet trust establishes a legal requirement and oversight for your money to be spent on your pet as you’ve directed. You’ll name an individual or financial institution as trustee to oversee the money in the trust, as well as a beneficiary who will be your pet’s designated caregiver using the trust fund. You’ll also want to specify what should happen to any remaining funds after your pet passes away, who will administer the trust, and who will provide pet care if your first choices become unavailable. Pet trusts are legal in all 50 states but the laws vary widely. Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to establish a properly-executed pet trust.

Make a plan for your pets now to avoid a potential catastrophe down the road. Start by providing for their immediate needs first and then get to work on more detailed, longer-term plans.

Vaughn Greene Funeral Services offers an array of supportive resources that deliver peace of mind and quality care. If you have questions about caretaking plans for your pet, please contact us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, and repast services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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