Have you ever thought about what would happen to your furry family members if you suddenly passed? Would they be cared for by a friend or family member? Or, end up in a shelter or rescue? It’s a topic that many of us have never considered or resist thinking about too much for fear of the inevitable.
But, with Covid-19 spreading throughout our communities, it’s something more folks have started to consider. You are not alone in wanting to be sure that your pets will still be well-loved when you're gone! There are steps you can take now to ensure your pets’ continued care in the future.
What can you do now to prepare?
- Find one or two responsible friends or family members that would be willing to care for your pet in an emergency and have your fur kids’ best interests at heart. Make sure they have a set of keys to your home and have care and feeding instructions, vet info, etc.
- Carry a wallet alert card that provides contact info to first responders so they can reach your chosen contact(s) in case of emergency. Give family and friends this information as well.
- Attach a sticker or permanent fixture near or on your front door with information about your animals inside for emergency personnel.
How can you set up long-term care for your pet?
You cannot leave money directly to your pet but there are several ways to make sure they will still be cared for. According to Nolo.com, these are your primary options.
- Leave your pet (with some money) to someone in your will.
Be aware that the person you name isn’t legally obligated to spend the money on your pet so choose wisely. Also keep in mind that a will takes time to go through probate, whereas a trust becomes effective as soon as you sign it.
- Create a pet trust to leave money for the care of your animal.
With this option your designated person is legally obligated to follow your instructions for care, and only use the money you left for that purpose. Stipulate an alternate person when possible as well. The State of Ohio recognizes Statutory Pet Trusts, as well as the use of traditional Revocable Living Trusts.
- Sign up with a charitable organization’s program to provide or find a home for your animal.
Some groups have formed that will either find your fur kid a new home or will care for them for the rest of their lives. Check here for a partial listing of organizations.
The hardest question… how do you choose a permanent caregiver for your fur children?
This can be a tough decision for anyone, but you first need to decide if you want to keep your pets together or if you’re ok with separating them into different homes. It will likely take some extra planning to keep a bonded pair together, so this is an important discussion to have with potential caregivers.
You can consider people like your adult children, parents, siblings, friends, or even close neighbors or pet-sitter that have experience caring for pets and desire to care for yours. Ask yourself: would your fur kid/s be comfortable in their home? Will they get the attention and care they’re used to? It’s a good idea to have conversations about what your expectations of long-term care would be. This person (or persons) is someone you’ll want to stay in periodic touch with as well, as people’s life circumstances change from time to time.
There’s a lot of thought that can and should go into planning for your own afterlife. You can give yourself added peace of mind by making sure your furry family members are a part of that planning.