Estate Planning for Pets-The First Step

How many of you consider your pets part of the family? We all worry about what will happen to our children if something happens to us and many pet owners also worry about who will take care of their furry children. Do you have someone you trust that could/would take care of your pet in case of accident or illness?
I know it is not the most uplifting blog but it is something that everyone needs to think about. Part of being a responsible owner is having plans in place. Pet First Aid Plan, Pet Sitter/Dog Walker Plan, Disaster Evacuation Plan, Pet Trust Plan, etc.

It can seem overwhelming when you think about it – finding a qualified person who will love your pets like you do, necessary vet care, quality food, paperwork, BUT, don’t let that stop you from starting a plan.
Just like dog training, take baby steps. Meet with an attorney to see what your options are and how you want to proceed. Most attorneys will do a consultation meeting with you for free. Find one that specializes in estate planning. How would your life insurance play into that scenario? Then ask friends, family, veterinarians, trainers, groomers, dog day care staff, your breeder, kennel club members, etc, that you are looking for a guardian for your pet just so you can have a plan in place. (I know it actually keeps some owners up at night so let’s take that worry off your plate and help you set up a plan).

Many people establish trusts or wills and designate a guardian to take care of their children and you can actually do the same thing for a pet. Now you can’t leave your pet money or property, but you can leave those assets to someone you trust that will take care of your pet.

“Lifetime care planning for pets doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or overwhelming,” says estate-planning attorney Heidi Goettel of Helena, Montana. “Pet owners have many options, and the peace of mind good planning provides is worth the effort.” – CJ Puotinen, Whole Dog Journal, April 2012 Issue, Planning for your dog’s care past your death is the ultimate in responsible ownership.

I’ve seen a number of pets dropped off at the shelter because family or friends didn’t want to take care of the animals. Whether it be due age, accident or illness, it is good to start putting a plan in place. If you have a special needs pet, you may want to find a back-up guardian or care-taker so you know your pet will be in the best hands.

I want to give people the tools to get started. If there is interest, I tentatively arranged a meeting for Wed, Nov 28th from 7-8 pm at the Innovation Connector to go over all the details and what you would need to do to get started. If you are interested, please let me know.

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