If I Die, What Happens to My Pet?

Cute pug family pet

Are you a pet owner? I am a lifelong dog owner. For me, my dog is a member of the family. We love our dogs and cats and for some of you other types of pets. Many animal lovers truly feel that their pets are their best friends. What happens to the dog or cat if you die or become incapacitated? What happens if your pet outlives you? 

Pet Trust-Your Legal Solution

You may recall that I published a blog discussing the concept of Boutique Trusts earlier this year. Today, I am focusing on pet trusts! What is a pet trust? A pet trust is a legal trust set up for the benefit of your pet. It’s a simple add-on to your estate plan whether you have a will or a living trust. It’s a special trust that has some funds in it for your pet’s benefit. Why do you need a Pet Trust? Let’s look at this pet question.

The Family Pet

In the United States, at least 85 million households, own a dog or a cat. Because a majority of families own more than one pet, over 184 million dogs and cats exist in homes. Interestingly, 85% of families consider their pet to be a member of the family and 12% consider them to be friends. We add the family member to keep us company, teach a child responsibility, become the “baby” of a new couple.  Maybe we add the pet to our home to help with mental health issues or to be a service animal for a physical disability. Regardless of the why,  your pet comes into your home and loves you. Do you have a plan for the family pet in case of your death or incapacity?

Seniors and Pet Trusts

Today, Seniors adoption is increasing. Pet ownership is shown to have mental, emotional and physical health benefits. Seniors living alone experience better health quality from pet ownership. There are many reasons for Seniors to consider pet adoption. It seems the main concern to Seniors is the question, “What will happen to my beloved senior pet if it outlives me?” Senior pets are difficult to rehome without financial resources. Many seem to think that a family member or a very good friend will automatically assume responsibility for the pet. What really might happen? 

The Pet Dilemma

Naturally, the thinking tends to be, “If something happens to me, my daughter or grandson will take care of my dog, my cat, my pet.” What is the reality– only about 25% of dogs and 26% of permanently end up with other relatives. Adult children may already have a pet. The added cost of another pet is a financial burden. Another pet is an added responsibility. The new addition may not fit in with the family. What happens to your beloved pet?

The Shelter Pet

Between 45-47% of dogs and cats end up in shelters, which is about 6-8 million a year. Many pets are left abandoned to starve. Only about 1-1.5% of stray dogs and cats are taken in by strangers. What happens to the rest of pets? Sadly, many are euthanized when most could have been rehomed. How can you protect your beloved pet from an unpredictable future?

Your Pet Trust

The numbers show that providing a forever home for your pet requires money and care. If you want to provide a home for your pet when you die, you need to provide some money to take care of the pet.  You cannot force a person to use money given to him or her to care for your pet after you die or become incapacitated. You are relying on goodwill. You need to name a legal pet owner in your estate plan.  Name the owner, provide the funds, name a Trustee. Without naming a legal caregiver in your estate plan, there is no sure future for your beloved pet.

I Will Help You with Your Pet Trust

If you are interested in pet adoption, my rescue came from https://missourik9friends.org/ and if you’re into a St. Bernard check out https://stcloudsrescue.org/ with my cousin Ali in Texas. Don’t leave your pet out in the cold if you die or become incapacitated. If you have questions about pet trusts or if you’re ready to establish one for your furry friend, I am here to help you.  Call me for more information or set up an appointment today and let’s get started!

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