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Estate Planning for Pet Owners

Estate Planning for Pet Owners

When people think about estate planning, they often think about what they want left behind for their children and what type of care they want for their children. However, if you have pets, it’s important not to forget about them. Your pets are entirely dependent on you, and in the absence of a pet care plan, you truly don’t know what will happen to them after your passing.

Learn more about how you can account for your pets in your estate planning and how the team at John H. Ruby & Associates can help. When you’re ready to move forward, call us at 502-373-8044.

The Importance of Pet Planning

Many of us love our pets as much as we love our human family members. As the saying goes, pets are only in our lives for a short period of time, but we are their entire lives. Should you pass away before your pet, they will already be traumatized by the sudden loss of their favorite person. The very last thing they need at that point is to end up in a shelter, overstimulated by the dozens or hundreds of other animals they can hear and smell. 

Go to any shelter’s website or Facebook page, and you won’t have to scroll long to see a pet who ended up there after its owner passed away. By planning ahead, you can save your pet from this sad outcome and ensure that they have the smoothest transition possible.

Creating a Pet Care Plan

Your pet care plan can be kept with all of your other estate planning documents. You’ll want to think about everything your pet may need on a daily basis, on a routine basis, and in an emergency. Some of the things to include in your plan are:

  • Your pet’s caretakers: Before you list anyone as your pet’s caretaker, make sure you talk to them about it first. If you name someone without approving them, there’s a good chance your beloved pet will still end up at the shelter. Make sure they know that they can turn you down without hard feelings—honesty is key in these conversations.
  • Detailed daily care instructions: Include your pet’s preferred food, feeding schedule, exercise requirements, medications, and other specific needs. You may also want to note their dislikes, likes, and habits.
  • Your pet’s medical records: Should your pet need to change vets at some point, you’ll want the new vet to have access to their care history. Make it easy for your chosen caretaker to provide this information.
  • Information on vets, boarding or petsitting facilities, and groomers: Include phone numbers, specific information you give them during appointments, and anything you do to prepare the pet for an appointment. If there’s any place your pet has had a bad experience, you may also want to write that down.
  • Legal documentation: Talk to your attorney about paperwork that transfers legal ownership of your pet to your named caretaker after you pass.

Financial Planning

Taking care of a pet is a huge financial responsibility, and you want to ensure that your chosen caretaker doesn’t have to struggle because of their choice to help you. Consider establishing a trust specifically for your pet’s care. You’ll need to name a trustee whom you can trust to handle the money responsibly and only for your pet’s benefit. When considering how much to put in the trust, consider the cost of food, litter, toys, grooming, boarding, regular veterinary checkups, potential medical emergencies, and preventive care. Account for inflation when thinking about the possible length of your pet’s life and how long they’ll need care.

You may also want to plan ahead for your pet’s end-of-life care. Budget for their euthanasia, cremation, or burial, and any final expenses associated with that. You may also want to specify if you want it to happen at a specific veterinary facility or at the pet’s home and if you would like their caregiver to stay with them until the end.

Explore Your Estate Planning Options with John H. Ruby & Associates

When you plan ahead for your pet’s needs after your death, you ensure that they have the best life possible—even after you’re gone. Get started on your estate planning now by calling John H. Ruby & Associates at 502-373-8044 or contacting our team of Louisville estate planning attorneys online.