Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | January 6, 2010

Pet Care Planning

Lavender the Lover

A recent Second Chance Humane Society Pet Column  introduced the need for pet parents to plan in advance for the care of your pet(s) in the case of your death or unforeseen inability to care for them. Part of the mission of Second Chance is to promote responsible pet parenting, and this is a prime example of that responsibility which many don’t attend to.  As a result Second Chance regularly contends with many rescue situations involving traumatized pets who suddenly have no caretaker.

I am actually one of those pets, rescued last summer, but more recently Second Chance rescued seven dogs from the same household of a parent no longer able to care for them.   (Details of these eight dogs needing new homes conclude this column.)  Second Chance strongly encourages all pet owners to make the critical plans necessary of ensuring your pet’s future wellbeing.  This Pet Column will get you started:

There are many levels to the planning process but all are predicated upon (1) who will care for your pet(s) and (2) how will you financially support this care.  In choosing a caregiver, decide if your pets should go to one or more persons. Try to keep pets together who have bonded with one another and designate backup caregivers as well, in case something happens to one of your initial choices.  Make sure the caregivers you select fully understand and agree to the responsibilities involved. Consider only trustworthy adults with pet parenting experience who, ideally, have some familiarity with your pets.

The caregivers should be identified in your will with an additional backup plan directing that the identified executor or trustee can place your pets with another responsible person. The will should also grant discretion to your executor for decisions about the pets and in expending estate funds on the animal’s behalf.

Relative to funding your pet’s care if something happens to you, it is possible to use the proceeds from a life insurance policy as an affordable way to pay for pets who survive you.  Additionally, Colorado is one of more than 30 states that now allow pet owners to set up pet trusts.

With an Enforceable Pet Trust, courts can monitor the trustees to make sure that pets receive the care deceased owners intended, and that all funds targeted for a pet’s care are indeed used for that purpose.  Another benefit of setting up a trust is that it can be written to exclude certain assets from probate so that funds are available sooner to care for your pet.

When establishing a will or a trust, keep in mind that you need to provide a reasonable amount of money for both the trustee and the pet caretakers and that annual cost for care vary with the health and age of the individual animal. Consider costs for food, grooming, vet care, etc.

A final important consideration involves including care issues of your pet in a Living Will or Trust to make sure your pet is cared for in the event of your severe disability — a situation in which a will would not be valid.   SCHS encourages all pet owners to discuss these issues with estate and other planning professionals, such as their attorneys, accountants, or life insurance representatives.

For further information, the Humane Society of the United States publishes a free kit (www.hsus.org/petsinwills) called “Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You”.  Or visit: http://estateplanningforpets.org.

In closing I invite you to consider fostering or adopting one of the seven newly rescued dogs mentioned above.  They include two Dachsunds, 2 Lhasa Apso’s, 1 Heeler, her 6 month Heeler/Lab puppy, and a Husky mix.  They are not all ready for adoption immediately but would benefit from a loving foster home.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Volunteer & Foster Care, or other Programs.  Visit our shelter pets online: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.  Direct Pet Column questions to:  kelly@secondchancehumanesociety.orgPhoto by Real Life Photographs.

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