As Covid-19 sadly has taken many lives worldwide, some pet owners are urging others to make sure they have a pet plan in place in case something happens. It's almost like creating a will that outlines your pet's care in the case of illness or death. When a human passes or falls ill to the point of being unable to care for their pets, it's the pets that often get overlooked as family members struggle to deal with everything. Having a pet plan in place makes it that much easier to make sure your pet is taken care of. Did you know only 9% of people with Wills have provisions for their pets, according to the American Pet Product Association? Many people don't know where to get started so we're here to help!
1. Find at least two trusted friends or family members that agree to care for your pet upon your demise. Think of them as godparents for your pets. They could agree to either become the pet's new owner in case of death or temporarily care for them while you are hospitalized. Make sure they have keys to your home, care instructions, and the veterinarian's number.
2. Keep neighbors, friends and family updated on how many pets you have, as this is especially useful in a home disaster event like a fire where you might be unable to help. You can also post removable stickers to your doors or windows that inform emergency services of how many and what type of animals are in your home.
3. Create a formal plan with an attorney that is legally binding. This can include how much money is left for your pet's care, who becomes the new caregiver, etc. A Trust is also a good idea as it becomes effective immediately (whereas a Will is more drawn out) and it ensures your pet is taken care of if you have fallen ill, not just passed away. In this, include a Power of Attorney who can have control over the money needed to care for your pet and make any necessary decisions. Be sure this person has agreed to do so as it can have a lot of pressure.
While it may seem simple with only three major steps, in the end, it takes a lot of thought into choosing Power of Attorneys, caregivers, etc. and really deciding what should happen if you pass away or incapacitated. Your legal advisor can call the following for more information if needed:
The Humane Society of the United States Planned Giving Office: 1-800-808-7858
The HSUS’s Office of the General Counsel: 202-452-1100 ext. 3320