Advance Funeral Planning and Pets
When a person undergoes estate planning or takes out a funeral insurance policy, much consideration is given to the beneficiaries and descendants being left behind. Who among them will be the executor to your estate? Who will be in charge of the funeral plans? How will your personal effects be divided amongst them? There are so many details to attend to that it’s no wonder animals and pets may be overlooked.
However, for many of us, our four-legged friends are just as important—if not more so—than the people we leave behind. If you have a beloved pet, it’s in your best interest to not only ensure that there are plans in place for when you pass, but also long-term care arrangements as you near your life’s end. There are several different ways this can happen.
- Talking with Loved Ones: Many times, all it takes to ensure a pet’s long-term care is to make your wishes clear. If you have a good relationship with your family and you trust them to care for your pet after you pass away, it may be possible to simply sit down and have a discussion about what will happen to your animals.
- Power of Attorney for Pet Care: Although not as common as power of attorney for people, policies can and do exist specifically for pets. Known as Power of Attorney for Pet Care (POAPC), these forms assign your pet a formal caregiver and give them the authority to provide veterinary care on your behalf. This is often necessary for larger animals or animals with complex care routines.
- Pet Wills: No one likes to think of their family sending a beloved pet to an animal shelter or to a vet for euthanasia after we pass, but it can and does happen—especially if you have not made formal arrangements in advance. Talk with your family and friends about who might be willing to take care of your pet, and put it in your will to avoid complications later on. You can make some financial arrangements in the will, as well, to ensure that your pet is taken care of in the manner you wish.
- Pet Trust: State sanctioned pet trust laws exist to provide owners the chance to make even more formal financial and long-term care arrangements for pets. These funds, separate from your will or other advance funeral plans, are bestowed upon your pet’s caretaker following your death, to help pay for their long-term care. Because the money is held in trust (rather than bestowed outright), there is less of a chance for financial abuse of the system.
Before you make any decisions regarding your pet’s long-term care, be sure and talk with your family and your estate planner. Whether or not you need to make legal arrangements will depend on your unique situation, family, and pets—though the peace of mind that comes with knowing everything is taken care of can be worth the modest additional cost.