For most pet owners, our pets become members of our families. So, providing for their future care is a very important step in our overall estate planning. Future planning means ensuring that your pet will be cared for if you become disabled or if you die. Using a power of attorney for pet planning is one way.
Provisions that need to be included in your plan
There are some particular terms that should be included in every pet plan. Provisions must be made for the basics, such as food, water and shelter. There should also be provisions for veterinary care and a healthy, happy home. You must determine who would be best suited for providing these things for your pet.
How can a power of attorney be used in pet planning?
You can name your desired pet caregiver in your power of attorney. It is also a good idea to name an alternative, in case your initial caregiver is unable to serve in that role.
With a power of attorney, along with naming someone to handle your personal and financial affairs, you can also authorize your agent to make arrangements for the care of your pet. This should include paying for medical treatment and other expenses necessary for your pet’s care. You do not have to name the same person to care for your pet and your personal affairs. The person who will care for your pet can be given very limited authority to do only that.
Use a power of attorney along with other estate planning tools
It may be a good idea to use the power of attorney in conjunction with other estate planning tools, such as your will or a trust. In fact, you can create a pet trust to include all of the necessary provisions for your pet’s future care. Of course, you cannot leave any money directly to your pets because they are considered to be your property. However, you can leave money to the person you name as your pet’s caregiver, with instructions on how to use the money for your pet’s care.
Consider using a pet trust
Instead of a simple power of attorney, you can leave the money to your chosen caregiver in a trust. That way, the trustee can distribute the money for the pet’s case, as needed. This type of arrangement will ensure that the money will be used appropriately. You may also want to include provisions regarding what to do in case your pet does not survive you. Many clients include instructions for the money in the pet trust to be distributed to the local animal shelter or another non-profit organization for the benefit of animals, if your pet is no longer living at the time of your death.
If you have questions regarding a power of attorney for your pet, or any other pet estate planning needs, please contact Wilcox Attorneys, PA online or by calling us at (479) 443-0062.
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