Dogs

Planning for My Animals’ Future — Just In Case

It used to be simple. If anything happened to me, there was still my spouse — to take care of business, make decisions, and do whatever needed to be done. We had a Will and a Living Will.

Simple.

But now things like who decides when to pull the plug becomes more complicated. Is that a decision you can make over the phone since my family lives in other states? Can anyone fly in on a moments notice?

And for those of us who own animals, what happens to them?

I’m in the process of drawing up my Will and was creating a separate addendum to designate what happens to my animals, but as I do some research, I’m thinking this is not an area my lawyer is very knowledgeable about or she would be asking me more questions and giving me more guidance.

Most of the information I’ve found on the internet is about designating a trust for the animal, selecting a trustee to handle the money, and primary and secondary guardians to take care of the pets. The trustee should also regularly check out that the guardians are taking proper care of the pets. One would hope that you had people to choose from that wouldn’t require checking on.

Some state have specific statutes on pet trusts — what they can and cannot do, how long they can be in effect, whether they only cover animals that were a part of the household when the document was written, and so on. Minnesota has no laws to cover this issue.

I don’t want to go the route my Dad did. He didn’t designate what was to happen to his animals and no money was set aside for their care. Because of this, his two remaining horses almost ended up going to auction. You can imagine what would happend to a 26 year old gelding at an auction.

But I don’t like how complicated setting up a trust is. After all, the trust amount and the people designated could change as my life changes, the animals’ needs change, or if another animal is added to the household, etc. I want something that is easy to ammend as needed, isn’t overly complicated, and doesn’t require ongoing monitoring by a trustee.

I was hoping I could set aside enough money to provide for what I think it costs to take care of Luke for one year. The person designated as his guardian could then decide to sell Luke or keep him to use themselves. If they kept him, they would then take on the cost of caring for him after the designated money was used up. Of course, as Luke moves into retirement age, a trust would make more sense as he would no longer be useable as a riding horse and I’d want to ensure he was taken good care of.

It seems less complicated to find a home for a dog or cat. Their needs are not as complicated. No barn required. But there again, it depends on the age and thus, the medical costs and difficulty of taking care of the animal. So what I would set up for Java and Shy now, could change in the future. Not to mention, that other animals may come and go into and out of my life.

So when you don’t have a partner, someone who looks out for you and those you love, life and death get to be even more complicated than they normally are. But even if you are married or somehow partnered up, there may be at least portions of this information on providing for your pets that you might want to think about.

And if you have any ideas or information of your own. Please pass it on to me.

Here is some helpful information that I found:

  • “Pet Trusts” by Nancy Blaney – Excellent article on things to consider in providing for your pet in case of an accident, illness, or death. Made me think of things I hadn’t thought of like carrying something to ensure that someone would know I have pets at home that need care and having instructions posted in plain sight on what to feed them. Also lists additional sources of information.  http://www.2ndchance4pets.org/PDF/DDAL.pdf 
  • Pet Guardian – Service to help you draw up a pet trust plan. Will help you calculate how much you should put into a trust. Problem? Costs $500 to have them draw up the plan but you can change it as much as needed after that without further cost. http://www.petguardian.com/common.php?v_section=1
  • Website for 2nd Chance for Pets – You can print off an Emergency ID Card to carry. Be sure to read the newsletter, which has some excellent information and helpful forms. http://www.2ndchance4pets.org/index.html

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5 Comments

  1. I don’t know about your state but in the state of Missouri you can write your desires and designations down and have the notarized with two whiteness signatures and it will stand up in court. You need to designate your son as trustee to oversee everything is done the way you want. I would put the trust in his name, that would be simpler than a third party.

    We do need to take care of these things as unpleasant as they are to think of.

    God bless ya sweetie and have a terrific weekend!!!

  2. Thanks for writing about this. The future of my animals has also been on my mind. I have no children and have been wondering what route to take as well. Great links.

  3. Pets are an important part of our lives. Before we got Chance, we asked our daughters if they would provide a home for him if we both croaked. Since they love him as much as we do..it works out perfectly to give us peace of mind.
    I think perhaps the key here is your son…or maybe your cousin that lives in the area. Either of them could see that your animals find a good home:)

  4. Nezzy – I think you are right. As long as I have the money set aside somehow. A witnessed document should fit the bill.

    Jill – It was interesting looking for information. I think more should be out there and lawyers should be trained to bring this up and help pet owners draw something up.

    Far Side – So many people I know are allergic to animals or don’t want to be tied down by them. But there are a couple people that I think would love to have Java and Shy. And I’ve fortunately made a few new horse friends that are willing to look out for Luke.

    Roxanne – Yes I know how that goes. It’s tough but I just want to make it as easy as possible for those I leave behind. It’s like trying to give a gift back to the people I love, I guess, by helping them to not have to struggle with figuring out what I wished. As for not wanting to think about the topic all together, my heart goes out to you. I wish we could talk in person. I have been there. Praying for peace.

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