None - If you die tomorrow (and 6,500 Americans will), what happens to your pet? Shockingly, most owners do nothing to protect their pets in the event of a tragedy. For once-loved pets, the results are painful in the extreme.
If you do nothing…
If you make no prior arrangements for your pet's care and you're unable to provide that care, you risk your pet becoming homeless, neglected or abused. Just assuming that friends or relatives will step in to provide a home for your pet may put your pet in danger. Without your protection in writing, your friend for life faces an uncertain future. Animal shelters typically receive a steady flow of pets whose owners have died. One unwanted cat or dog is euthanized every 8 seconds.
What can you do?
You have up to 3 options. Most states will let you make a 'Pets Trust,' a comprehensive option that gives owners control through rules that must be followed, includes funding the Trust with assets and appointing a Trustee to watch over the pet's care-giver. If this is more than you need or can afford, the legal alternative is to include your pet in your 'Last Will & Testament,' appointing a care-giver and perhaps making a financial gift to that person. A third option (even more affordable and easy to implement) is a 'Pets Letter of Wishes' - for those who want to instantly protect their pet without all the steps involved in making a 'Will.' If used, the 'Pets Letter of Wishes' can provide a powerful moral statement telling the Probate Court exactly what you and your pet want.
Can you do more?
Yes - you know your pet best. For your pet's sake, make sure your knowledge survives even if you die. Write a 'Private Letter' to keep with your 'Pets Letter of Wishes,' 'Will' or trust documents, with the name and location of your pet, any pet registration papers and special care instructions. Consider including information on any favorite foods, toys or friends and veterinary history, medical conditions, dietary requirements, sleeping and exercise needs.
By taking these simple steps, owners can ensure their love goes on even if their pet outlives them. Getting the documents is much easier now, thanks to online services like www.ItsMyLife.com where you can make a 'Pets Letter of Wishes,' a 'Last Will & Testament' and write 'Private Letters' - all for one fee. See Website For Details
Whatever you do:
If you love your pet, make sure your pet is provided for properly - no matter what happens to you. It is imperative that you discuss your pet's future with the people you hope will take care of your pet when you can't, and make appropriate arrangements with them before settling your pet's future in writing. And don't put it off till another day - tomorrow isn't promised.
This article was written by Jon Sayers, President of www.ItsMyLife.com, an online estate planning company which makes it easy and affordable for people to make documents protecting their pets without seeing an attorney. Neither Jon nor ItsMyLife.com provides any legal advice, only legal information. If you're in any doubt about providing for your pet in the event of your death, you should see an attorney in your state who specializes in Wills, Trust and Estate Planning. For more information visit www.ItsMyLife.com