Don't Forget The Pets
When you are incapacitated or gone, what's going to happen to your pets?
©2005 Melissa Kaplan
As much as pet owners love their pets, they are often unwilling to think about what will happen to the animals if something happens that prevents the owner from caring for them.
Making arrangements for our pets and documenting them in writing is as important as making a Will and ACD is for us. Keeping those arrangements and wishes updated is crucial, too.
The first thing to do is to appoint a sort of Pet Executor, someone who is comfortable enough with animals in general, who you trust with your animals and your house key, who is willing to go into your home and take care of your pets while you are temporarily incapacitated, or who will oversee daily pet care provided by a pet care service.
The Pet Executor will ideally be the one who, in the event of your permanent incapacity or death, will take care of making sure your pets go to those individuals or organizations who made prior arrangements with should such a need arise.
Contact the people you wish to take your pet(s), and make sure that they are okay with being chosen for the specific animals you think they are right for. If they agree, create a master list of each pet, identified by both name and species or breed, and the name, address, phone number and e-mail of the person who will take each individual pet.
Your absence, whether temporary or permanent, from your pet's life will affect your pet. Even species that do not form attachments of the kind we associate with species like parrots, dogs, cats, horses, iguanas, and bearded dragons, will be affected by the mere presence and activities of their new human caretaker. The stress will be compounded when the pets are moved from their 'own' home to their new homes.
Stress can adversely affect our pets health and well-being, so do what you can ahead of time to reduce the stress. Take the steps you can to ensue your pets are moved to their new homes along with the things they are familiar with in their old: food bowls, "their" blankets, towels, pillows, their toys, etc.
If you are only temporarily incapacitated, your recovery will be helped by your not having to stress out as much about your pets, knowing that you have already made provisions for them, allowing you to concentrate on you.
If you have an excellent relationship with your Pet Executor, you could set up a joint savings or money market checking account. You make the deposits into the account up to an amount you feel is reasonable to care for your pets (daily care as well as routine and other veterinary services, special foods, medications for special needs pets, and treats) and get them shipped or otherwise delivered to their new homes. The account is otherwise left to gather what little interest it may, until the day comes when your Pet Executor needs to withdraw funds to cover the costs of caring for and re-homing your pets.
A better option, one that will not be affected by a relationship gone sour, is to set up a savings account, or stock or mutual funds account, that you build up to the point where it will cover the anticipated costs of pet care and re-homing. Make your Pet Executor the beneficiary of this account, and include reference to this account and beneficiary in your Will and in the papers you leave for your Pet Executor.
Power of Attorney
The Pet Executar/Guardian Rights
To avoid pitting family member against family member or friend, put in writing what you want done. Be specific. Put your pets needs first, not the feelings of your elderly Aunt Millie who will be hurt because you feel that she is no longer capable of caring for herself, let alone your cherished cat who requires daily medication.
more formal arrangements should be made. The Human Society
of the United States has an excellent resource page,
Long-Term Care for Your Pet, at their site, along
with a kit, Providing
for Your Pet's Future Without You.
One thing is for sure: if it isn't in writing, there is nothing to prove to anyone what you wanted when you were able to speak for yourself and your pets.
And that isn't good.
Do yourself and your pets a favor, and keep these documents up-to-date. Set up an annual reminder in your calendar to bug you until you review your directives--and Will--and execute the necessary changes.
Lives depend on it.
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© 1994-2013 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site