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For many of us, our pets are now family members. They love us unconditionally, all they ask is that we feed, house, and play with them. For many of us, we hope to outlive them, so that we know that they will be taken care of by the people who love them the most. Unfortunately there will be many situations, where we may go first and there is no plan in place to make sure that they are taken care of.
This is especially harder for pets that are not puppies or kittens, they are easier to rehome, they are usually the first to be adopted. Once a pet get older and those who are senior, typically do not get adopted and spend their time in cages or some cases even worse.
There is an organization called Susie's Senior Dogs, they try to help senior dogs all over the US to get them rehomed. Some of these stories are heart breaking, some of these dogs are waiting years to find a new forever home.
It's important to plan for the unexpected. Now is a good time to start making arrangements for your pet's care in the event you are no longer there to take care of them. Have you considered who will care for your pet if you get sick or injured? Here are some ways to prepare for your pet's future.
Be Sure Someone Has Access to Your Home– It may seem morbid, but if you live alone and you die or get hurt, your pet will be left alone. However, a trusted friend or family member who has your house key will be able to get into your home if they haven't heard from you in a while. On that note, talk to friends and family about what to do if they have not heard from you in a few days. Unfortunately, you never know what can happen. "Watch My Video "Protecting You Pet" to find out how you can get a free "My Pet Is Home Alone" emergency card.
Talk to Family Members and Friends About your Wishes – NEVER ASSUME THAT SOMEONE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET. Google Susie's Senior Dogs.
Find out who is willing to adopt your dog if you die or can no longer care for them. If you cannot find someone to make a commitment to keep your pet, see who might be willing to foster your dog until a home is found. As a precaution, it's a good idea to make a list of preferred rescue organizations in your area where you would like your pet to go until a permanent home is found. Some of these organizations will work with you, when the situation arises. This will be helpful in case no friends or family members can take your pet. It's also a good idea to communicate with your vet about your wishes. You may want to add an authorized person to your pet's records so they can get access if needed in the future.
Include Your Pet in Your Will – It's important that you make a will that includes your pet. Be specific about who should take your dog. Ideally, make a list of several people in order of your preference, in case your first choice cannot take your pet.
Setting up a Pet Trust or Pet Protection Agreement - Your family lawyer can help you to set up this document, or you can use a online legal service like Legal Zoom.
Either one of these documents will officially name your pet guardian, if you do not specifically name them, it could be left to the court or a family member decision.
Designate money for your pet's well-being - Make sure your new caretaker can cover food, a vet and other expenses. This can be done with a cash fund, or many people will set up small Life Insurance Policies between $1-5K to cover these expenses.
Though you can not directly leave money to your pet, you can designate someone to leave a small life insurance policy to care for your pet.
If you can create a trust to bequeath a life insurance policy too.
You can make arrangements with a pet rescue organization, who has a program in place to rehome your pet, and will insure that part of your donation goes to the care of your pet. They can be listed as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Contact the organization and make your pre-need arrangements. If you can not find a local organization, check with your Vet or local SPCA office, they may be able to recommend someone one.
Protects current and future pets - Provide instructions for your current pets and any pets you may get later.
When to consider a "PET TRUST" - If you plan to leave a substantial amount of money for the care of pets or you think family members may dispute your wishes, then a formal pet trust can be a good option. However, a pet trust should be created by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and has experience in pet issues
Your Pet Veterinarian and Records - Indicate which veterinarian has been caring for your pet. Keep your pet's health records accessible so the new owner will know your pet's medical history, including health issues, allergies, vaccinations, and more. Include notes about your pet's regular diet and training history. Provide any other details that you feel are important, such as your pet's personality traits, lifestyle preferences, and daily routine. Include any pre-arrangements that have been made for your pet. For example, did you already make arrangements to have your pet buried or cremated? Or, when your pet eventually passes away, do you want specific arrangements made? Perhaps you have asked to have your ashes scattered in your favorite place and you would like the same to be done with your pet's ashes when the time comes.