Pet Care After Death
Pets have become important members of the family. But what would happen to your pets if they outlived you? With some simple pre-planning, you can ensure that your pets are always cared for, even after you’re gone.
Carry a pet alert card in your wallet/purse.
If something happens to you, this card will alert authorities that you have a pet at home. Include your address, pet name, type of animal, and emergency contact information on the card.
Identify a caregiver or two. Talk with everyone you trust about caring for your pet after death.
It’s a good idea to have a primary and a secondary caregiver. To avoid misunderstandings, consider getting commitments in writing. Keep in mind that over time, people’s circumstances and priorities change. Make sure that the arrangements you have made are still the best option for your pet.
Create an information packet that contains helpful information about caring for your pet. Include details about:
- Food preferences
- Medical conditions and medications
- Veterinary information
- Vaccination and medical records
- Daily rituals (feedings, exercise, potty times, sleep habits, grooming)
- Behavioral information (how is your pet around other animals, adults, and children)
Provide your pet caregivers with a copy of the information packet, and keep an easily accessible copy with your own important papers.
Provide funds to help care for your pet.
If you can, it’s a good idea to provide funds for the person(s) who commits to taking care of your pet. When planning how much money to set aside and how to handle the future care of your pet, consider the following:
- Have a third person control the money to ensure the caregiver is using it appropriately.
- Choose the funding option that makes the most sense for you. For example: bank accounts, life insurance policies, annuity contracts, or will/trust provisions.
- What is your pet’s age and lifestyle?
- Does your pet have any special needs?
- Provide for the expense of your pet’s burial or cremation.
- Setting aside too much money, using money as motivation to convince someone to be a potential caregiver, and giving all of the money to the caregiver all at once should be avoided, as this often creates problems.
Consider a formal arrangement, such as a pet trust.
The best way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled is to work with an attorney to create a will, trust, or other document. It is a good idea to include your pet in your will; however, there are some limitations that could delay when your instructions are carried out. Because of this, you may want to explore a pet trust.
Unlike a will, a pet trust can provide for your pet immediately – not only in death, but in the event of illness or disability. With a pet trust, you determine when the trust becomes effective. When you create a trust for your pet, you set aside money to be used for the care your pet and you specify a trustee to control the funds. Because a pet trust is relatively expensive to administer and maintain, this option may not be for everyone.
Animals who outlive their owners face uncertain fates. Under the best circumstances, a family member or friend will care for your pet. The Humane Society created the fact sheet, “Providing for your pet’s future without you,” to help ensure that your wishes for your pet’s long-term care won’t be forgotten, misconstrued, or ignored.
Beneficiaries miss out on life insurance benefits all too often. The odds that you're owed money from a lost, forgotten or unknown policy are about one in 600. Besides life insurance, there may be other assets a deceased person might have that family members may be totally unaware of. Without an organized list, your loved ones and beneficiaries may be missing out.
In a recent report we touched on the importance of keeping certain financial documents. Today, we are taking a deeper dive into what you should keep and for how long. We'll also give you suggestions on where to store documents, and when they are no longer needed, how to get rid of them.
In a recent report, Care.com talked about the importance of end-of-life planning and included My Life and Wishes as the “best on-line end-of-life planning and document service(s)”. In a related Article, Kim Komando names My Life and Wishes as one of her top picks on organizing end-of-life plans.
What information do people need to access in emergency situations? A trip to the ER may require: List of allergies, current medications, medical history, doctor contacts, family contacts, insurance information, photo identification. A fire or natural disaster may require: Identification documents, insurance documents, proof of ownership (such as deeds or titles), access to bank accounts for emergency cash, pet location information, medical information and family contact information. So where do you keep this information? Is it accessible and is it secure?