In last week's column I wrote about the importance of including your pet in your estate plan. Well, maybe importance is a bit or an overstatement. But it is important to consider what will happen to your furry, feathery or scaly friend should something happen to you.
If after careful consideration, you decide your pet's well being should be included in your estate plan, what should you do?
The first and most important thing to consider is who is going to take custody of your pet. It's important to remember not everyone is able to care for an animal. Maybe they don't have the room or the financial ability to care for an animal. Maybe they just aren't pet kind of people; not everyone is.
I think it's a good idea to talk to the person that you are considering naming first to make sure they are able and willing to assume the responsibility. I'm sure you would hate to see your pet end up in a place where they won't be loved, or worse, abandoned at a shelter.
If after discussing your intentions, it's clear the person that you are considering can't or won't take care of your pet, don't think too poorly of them. Like I said, not everyone is a pet kind of person. Just consider your options and talk to someone else.
Once you decided where your pet will go, update your will or trust to reflect your choice. At this point you can stop or you can take it one step further.
Since you own a pet, you know how expensive they can be. Food and medical care can be a drain on the family budget. An annual checkup and shots alone can easily cost a $150.
To help offset the costs of caring for your pet, consider including a financial provision in your estate plan. I'm not suggesting that you leave Cuddles money, but you can use a simple pet trust to help with the cost of taking care of your pet. You don't need to fund the trust with a lot of money. Just enough to help offset the costs of pet ownership.
If you are feeling even more inspired when planning for your pet, consider including a provision to help one of the fine organizations that care for unwanted and abandoned animals. Again, you don't have to make a large donation. I'm sure any amount would be welcomed.
Making sure our loved ones are taken care of after our death is a big reason for planning. Shouldn't your pet be included in that list of loved ones?