The following is excellent information on planning for your pets care should you become unable to care for them. Sudden disability, hospitalization, death....we know that these things are a part of life and can happen to any one of us at any time at any age but most of us fail to include our pets in our Will or set aside funds to care for them when we no longer can.
No one wants to think about their own demise so we avoid planning for our pets future without us. Unfortunately for our pets this leaves them homeless, dumped at kill shelters, or left to starve to death at home because no one knows that they are there. No one is thinking about your pet while your laying unconscience in critical care. This tragedy can be avoided simply by carrying a card in your wallet with information about your pets, how you want them cared for and set aside a Pet Trust and include them in your Will. Bonnie Weinhold of Chocolate Dog Ad., Inc. provides much of the following information.
Approximately 62% of households in the United States have a pet but very few of these households have a contingency plan in place for their pets. Hardly anyone thinks they will be out lived by their pet so provisions to ensure the pets care, should the owner become incapacitated or die, doesn’t cross their mind. Around 500,000 pets in shelters are euthanized around the United States each year because their guardian did not have a contingency plan in place. Many of these pets are surrendered to shelters by family members who do not have the resources to care for the pet and all efforts to find it a new home have failed. Often, these pets are old and lie out the remainder of their lives in a cold, strange place with strange people. They are so despondent that they do not eat or interact with others and are labeled as unadoptable and do not “sell” well. Bonnie Weinhold, Chocolate Dog Ad., Inc.
It is important to add that should your sweet darling end up in a kill shelter they are at risk of being turned over to animal research or stole and used as bait for fighting dogs. I volunteered at a local metro Atlanta kill shelter briefly. Animals "disappeared" from cages and pens every day. No one knew what happened to these animals or how they were stole. The sweeter the pet the more likely she or he was to "disappear." No one investigated what happen to these pets or how they were removed from the shelter because no one cared. Shelter employees overwhelmed with the volume of animals coming in the shelter all day every day don't have time or resources to investigate why animals disappear from the shelter. Animal abusers and animal dealers know this and find ways to collect animals dumped at your local animal control facility.
Some shelters are required by law to turn over docile animals to laboratories that use animals in research. Remember all those cancer and March of Dimes fundraisers that you supported? This means that your sweet baby could spend out his or her life being tortured, legally, funded by your tax dollars and fundraisers, by scientist that don't believe that animals have feelings so why provide anesthetics or pain killers when drilling into their head or slicing them open?
Legally, animals are considered tangible personal property but estate and trust lawyers do not think of pets as property so, when discussing estate planning with their clients, the question of pet guardianship and animal trusts are rarely asked. It is up to the pet owner to have a contingency plan in place because there is the possibility you won’t come home one day. Name a couple of friends or family members committed to caring for your pet should you be hospitalized or die. If a committed person cannot be found, try other venues such as a veterinarian technician, pet sitter, and rescue groups. Bequeathing your pet in a will is good and is certainly better than nothing but remember, a will can be contested over any number of matters and held in probate (which includes the pet) for months at a time. Bonnie Weinhold
Carry a “pet card” in your wallet with your pet’s name, type, name of contact person and any special care instructions. This will expedite care to your pet, by a police officer or other responsible person, should you become incapacitated. They will know there is a pet relying on you. Include this information in your estate planning material.
Another matter to consider is providing enough money for the lifetime care of your pet by calculating the pet’s yearly expenses and then multiplying that figure by the pet’s life expectancy then placing the funds in a pet trust. There are two types of pet trusts; the traditional pet trust, recognized in all states, which allows the pet owner to specify what the designated caregiver’s responsibilities will be to care for the pet and to appoint a trustee to manage the money allotted to the caregiver for the care of the pet as well as what is to be done should the designated caregiver can no longer care for the pet. The second trust is a “statutory pet trust”, authorized in a majority of states but gives the pet owner limited decisions concerning the terms of the trust. It is bare-bones and basic and the state fills any gaps.
Our pets are our family, completely and totally dependent on us to provide for their safety and security. If the thought of your pet thrown into a gas chamber to suffocate to death, used as bait for fighting dogs or lingering in pain and terror at the local animal research facility is unbearable to you then it is time to be proactive and protect your pet's future.
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