How to Care For Your Pets When You’re Gone

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We love our pets like family, share our homes, our food, our bed. We’d do anything for them, right? What about making sure they are safe if we’re no longer here to provide for them? If you have pets, it’s something you better think about now.

Even though we think of our pets as family, the law says they are property and will be treated as such should you die without expressly providing for them in a will or living trust. Money cannot be left directly to a pet so you’ll have to set up other provisions.

1.  Designate a person or persons to be the caregiver in your absence.  Be sure you discuss the situation with your caregiver in advance. Be open about expectations. Be certain they are aware of the clause in your will and are willing to accept the responsibility.

2. Be financially responsible for your pet’s continued care. Simply add a clause that states how much money you are leaving “to Fido’s caregiver, Jon Smith, for Fido’s continued care for his natural lifetime.” This option is free and easy. Add a clause that returns the money to the estate should the pet predecease you. More costly is setting up trusts, which are not recognized in every state.

3.  Make the transition easier on your pet.  First and foremost, be sure the pet and future caregiver is familiar and comfortable with each other. Create a pet ‘bio’ for each pet – list likes and dislikes, daily habits, food preferences, health concerns, have medical history up-to-date, and preferred toys or bedding.

If you do not have family or friends willing to take on the continued care of your pets, consider a charitable organization that will find your pet a qualified new home or a sanctuary that will themselves care for your pet for the rest of its lifetime. Be sure to do your homework when taking one of these options, there are always quality organizations and some that are less reputable. Here are some simple steps to insure your pet will be adequately cared for in your absence.

1.  Contact several organizations and ask detailed questions about the services they provide.

2.  Visit the organization in person at least twice. The first time make an appointment and ask the owner or manager for a detailed tour of their program and facilities. The second time drop in unexpectedly. This will give you a snapshot of how the organization really functions.

3.  Set up in advance how your pet will be transferred to the rescue organization and what you will need to send with them to insure quality continued care.

4.  Keep in touch with the organization periodically to be sure it’s still operating, conditions remain consistent, and has room should the worst happen.

Remember, you pet’s always been there for you. It’s time to make sure there is someone there for them when you are no longer here.

Lou is an avid supporter of Pawzitive Petz Rescue.

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