Pets are part of our family yet can be forgotten when preparing for the future. If you become incapacitated or pass away, you will want to have provisions for your pets in your overall estate plan. Including specific documents in your estate plan can ensure that someone has access to your home and authorization to care for your pets in the short term and can ensure that you decide who will ultimately care for your pets, and how they will be cared for.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Pet Care allows you to name someone else who is authorized to seek medical care for your pet. This document is not only important in the case of your death, but also in the case of your incapacity, and can also be used by a pet caretaker while you are away on business or vacation. In this document, like a Healthcare Power of Attorney for yourself, you can specify to what extent the Pet Care Power of Attorney is authorized to act on your behalf.
A pet trust is a great way to ensure that your pet is cared and provided for after your death because a pet trust allows you to name the caretaker of your pets and creates a legal obligation on the named caretaker to care for your pet in the manner described in your trust. In a pet trust, you will provide money for your pet to be cared for, and the caretaker that you name for your pet must use the funds to care for your pet, or he or she can be sued. A pet trust also allows you to name successive caretakers in case your preferred caretaker becomes unable to take care of your pet. This type of planning affords the best protection for your pet and should be drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney.
Pet care instructions will accompany the instructions in your pet trust but are important to have as a separate provision so that you can change your pet care instructions as your pet’s needs change without having to update your trust each time. The pet care instructions should be reviewed and updated frequently to ensure that food requirements, medical information, and emergency contacts are up to date.
This extra protection will immediately notify someone that you have pets at home if you are found to be deceased or incapacitated somewhere other than your home. Like adding “in case of emergency” contacts to your phone, having information in your wallet about who should be contacted to quickly provide care to your pets in such a situation can be the difference between your pets being cared for quickly or being home alone for days without food or water.
Everyone needs an estate plan, and no pet owner’s plan is complete without ensuring that his or her beloved pet is provided for. Whether updating your existing plan to include your pets, or creating a brand-new estate plan, Chapman Law Group can help.
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