Provisions for the care of animals after the death of the owner
We know your pet is family, which is why it is important to develop a pet care plan after the owner dies.
Although it is difficult to envision, making arrangements will give you peace of mind and ensure that your pet is receiving the same type of care that you are currently doing.
You can make formal and informal arrangements, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. A legally named pet authorization form is one way to provide your pet after your death. But there are more, we’ve listed them here for you, including what you can do legally to protect your pet.
Can I leave the money there?
The short answer is no, you can’t just leave money for your pet. The good news is that you can arrange for your pet to be looked after after your death. All of these options include choosing a caregiver and leaving money for that person (or organization) in the form of a will or trust to care for your pet.
The two main ways to organize the care of the animal after the owner’s death is through an oral or written arrangement. Let’s take a look at how to choose a pet caregiver first.
Choosing a pet caregiver
This step can be the hardest part, as it can emotionally think about what will happen to your pet after you die. Also, it can be a tough decision, as you want to make sure you have complete confidence in the person who will take care of your pet.But you have pet insurance in case the furry baby gets sick, now you need to plan more.
If you have more than one animal, you can choose to give all the animals to one person or to different people. If you know that a person cannot or does not want to take care of more than one pet, choosing more than one person is a good choice.
You can name whoever you want: your aunt, best friend, coworker, or other family member. It is best to choose someone who has interacted with your pet, a well-known animal lover, or someone who has taken care of your animal. Even if you only consider one person, choose a backup just in case. And make sure they’ve agreed to the arrangement.
Again, please choose carefully, as whoever you appoint will take full responsibility for your pet’s care, including major medical decisions in addition to day-to-day affairs. Not only do you have to trust this person, but you also want them to be someone you know, and they will do their best for your pet.
Another thing to consider is finding a temporary caregiver in case the person you officially designate is not there when you die. For example, your aunt was away on business for only a week, but you have pre-designated temporary caregivers for your brother, and Spot will look after her until he returns.
What if I can’t find a suitable caregiver?
After the owner has passed away, it is difficult to find someone willing to take care of the animal. Of course, there are many organizations like the Humane Society that will accept your pet. The sad truth is that these places may not have space for your pets, and there is no guarantee that someone will adopt them. If you go in this direction, you might want to find a refuge with no skills.
In response, organizations across the United States are making sure pet owners have a place to leave their pets when they can’t take care of them. Keep in mind that these places will require donations – think of it like money for your pet.
Make sure you do your research to make sure you choose a reputable organization and know exactly how much to give. In addition, you must designate a person to temporarily take care of your animal until it can be brought into the organization.
Should I make formal or informal arrangements?
The main difference between formal and informal arrangements is that the latter is done orally, while the former has a formal written agreement. If so, the formal arrangement will include some form of estate planning document (more on this later).
The main benefit of creating a written agreement is that you can specify who will take care of your pets, including instructions on how to care for them financially. You may need to pay a fee. lawyer to draft a document, or there are many. models online.
If you trust the potential caregiver and clearly describe your wishes, then informal arrangements are perfect. This can mean keeping in touch with that person on a regular basis and making sure that they are still willing to take care of your pet.
The downside is that financial arrangements can get blurry. You can leave money for your caregiver in your will, but you can’t be absolutely sure that this person will use it to take care of your pet. Having said that, neither option is better than the other. Make sure you understand what you need to do to make sure all of your choices come true.
Choose the right type of legal document
If you decide to create an estate planning document that outlines your wishes, one of the easiest ways is to create a will or pet trust. In a will, you will name someone as the owner of the animal after your death and you will leave the money to them. In this way, that person will receive money to take care of your pet and become the legal owner.
However, the will cannot specify how to use the money. Just like now, the caregiver can use the money however they want (although if you trust them it shouldn’t be a big deal). You can create another document to describe your wishes, but again, the caregiver is not required to comply with it. These instructions may include how much to pay for specific charges, or how to temporarily care for them if transporting pets to a new home takes time.
Disputes about your will can take several weeks or more to resolve. At the same time, your pets may not have legal guardians and funds to care for them.
Consider a pet trust
Another estate planning document, the Pet Trust, is a more specific tool that formally describes the legal obligations of the caregiver to your pet. You will name this person in the trust and provide them with instructions on how to take care of your pet, and leave money for this purpose. This file is set up with your will.
Once you die or become incapacitated, the pet’s caregiver will be appointed as a trustee and will have to follow your instructions in the pet trust. All provisions of this document will take effect immediately, as your assets will not be homologated or your wishes need to be discussed.
Whatever type of document or arrangement you enter into, it is best to consult a legal professional, such as a personal representative. This way, you can make an informed decision based on which way is best for your beloved pet.
Contributor Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance writer living in Jacksonville, Florida specializing in real estate, insurance, banking, loans and credit. She is the host of the Buzzsprout and Beyond the Dollar podcasts.