Does Your Estate Plan Include Your Pets?

What happens to your pets when something happens to you? Many people never think about this, as they presume they will outlive their dog or cat. But what if you’re the one who becomes unable to care for your pet, because of illness or Alzheimer’s or an accident. Or what would happen if you die?

Pets have an important place in many people’s lives, and bring joy and companionship.  In our increasingly “pet friendly” society, pets are now welcomed at many stores and shops, and many restaurants allow dogs on outdoor patios. Yet these are the same pets who are left alone and uncertain when their owners become ill or die.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, more people need to plan for their pets. Amy Shever, who founded the pet awareness nonprofit, 2nd Chance 4 Pets, says that an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 pets are abandoned to animal shelters after owners die or become incapacitated.

To help pet owners protect their pets against the unexpected happening to the owner, The Human Society has created a printable fact sheet titled, “Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You.” This 5 page informational piece is a good checklist for what to do both informally (who will take your pet for a few days if you are rushed to the hospital) and formally (including provisions to fund your pet’s care after your death in your will or trust). The article has helpful pointers for including pets in wills and trusts, as well as language for a power of attorney.

In many cases, there are family members who will give your pet a new family and a warm welcome. But as The Humane Society notes, it’s important to keep your plans up to date. If you’re relying on family that lives the distance, or a verbal assurance given many years ago, you (and your pet) will be better protected by taking action to provide your your pet.

The Humane Society of the Piedmont always appreciate support from cat and dog owners in Guilford County, and appreciates being remembered in your estate planning to benefit pets in the Piedmont.