What Happens if My Pet Survives Me?

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Many people treat their animals like family members.  But what happens when a pet survives its owner? Sometimes families hope that their spouse or other family will care for their pet, and this is a great option where the family member is willing and able to care for your pet.  However, according to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million animals are left at shelters every year and almost one million are euthanized.  If family or friends are not willing to provide care for a pet, they will most likely end up giving the pet to a shelter.

What should responsible pet owners do to make sure their pets are provided for?  Pet owners who live alone should do some short-term planning.  For example, carrying a pet-alert card in your wallet or purse will indicate to emergency personnel that they need to search your residence for your pet.  Also, a sign in the window can help firefighters, etc. to know that there are animals to save in the event of an emergency at your residence.  Additionally, setting up a power of attorney that gives a trusted person the power to care for pets can be important in situations where you become incapacitated and need someone to help with caring for your animals. Leaving detailed instructions for the care of your pet can help ensure that your agent has the information needed to provide the proper medical and other care that your pet needs. The website 2ndchance4pets.org is a great resource for these types of short-term planning.

Long-term planning for your pet may also be appropriate.  Many pet owners want to set aside funds to make sure their pets are well cared for if the pets should out-live their owner.  In Utah, a trust for one or more animals is valid and enforceable. Making sure that an animal is well-cared for after your death involves separating duties to provide checks and balances.  A trustee is appointed to distribute funds from the trust to a caretaker who is charged with the day-to-day responsibility of caring for the pet.  An animal care panel can also be created with members including concerned family members, friends, a veterinarian, and perhaps other professionals such as a farrier if your pets include horses.  The animal care panel would help with care supervision and making decisions related to the needs of your pet.

If you would like more information or would like to start the process of planning for your pets, please don’t hesitate to call me at 801-874-4546 to schedule a free consultation.  I am an estate planning attorney in Spanish Fork, Utah.  While my office is in Spanish Fork, I provide estate planning services in Utah County an beyond.

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