How much time, effort and money do you spend caring for your pet? If you are like most pet owners, the answer to this question can best be summed up as, “A lot.” As pet owners, we are extraordinarily compassionate about caring for our beloved animals, and there are no lengths to which we won’t go to ensure that they are safe, content, and well-fed.
But, what happens when you die? Or, what if you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury and you are no longer able to personally care for your pet? While these are questions no one likes to think about, answering them is important for your pet, for you, and for the loved ones who would need to care for your pet on your behalf.
2 Important Life Planning Tools for Protecting Your Pets
When it comes to providing for your pet in your life plan, there are two separate issues to consider. The first is your pet’s care in the event of your incapacity. The second is your pet’s ownership and care in the event of your death. We use separate life planning tools to address each of these issues:
1. Durable Powers of Attorney for Pet Care (Planning for Incapacity)
A durable power of attorney for pet care allows you to appoint someone to care for your pet on your behalf should you become unable to do so during your lifetime. While the most-common reason for incapacity is simply growing old, there are various ways that a person can become incapacitated at all stages of life. For example, being involved in a serious car accident, suffering a traumatic injury on the job, and suddenly falling ill are all risks worth considering when it comes to making sure your pet’s needs will always be met.
Critically, a durable power of attorney for pet care is (or can be) temporary. If you recover from your injury or illness and regain capacity, then you will be able to resume providing care for your pet. However, while you are unable to provide care, the person you name in your durable power of attorney will have the legal authority to ensure your pet continues to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.
2. Pet Trusts (Planning for Death)
While it is possible to bequeath your pet to a loved one in your will, this approach is generally inadvisable for a variety of different reasons. Instead, we typically recommend use of a pet trust.
Creating a pet trust allows you to choose who will care for your pet after your death. It also allows you to establish guidelines for your pet’s care, and you can require that your pet have access to specific foods, activities and other things he or she enjoyed during your lifetime. With a pet trust, you can also set aside funds specifically for meeting your pet’s needs, and you can give a gift to your chosen caretaker so that he or she can purchase the provisions necessary to comfortably move your pet into his or her home. Learn more about pet trusts.
Discuss Your Pet Planning Needs With Attorney Mark F. Moss
Do you have questions about preparing a durable power of attorney for pet care or a pet trust? For a confidential initial consultation, give us a call at 904-329-7242 or request an appointment online today.
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