So you’ve made provisions for your pet in your will. Isn’t that enough?
First, to be effective, a will has to be probated. That can take weeks or months. Until then, your pets are in danger. They could end up dumped at a shelter. They could end up as bait dogs.
Second, a will doesn’t provide immediate funds to care for your pets. It can’t, not until an executor is appointed. What if one of them gets sick? Or even just needs monthly heartworm preventives?
So maybe you have a Pet Care Contract or just an agreement with a neighbor. Or maybe you think your family will make sure your wishes are followed.
The Pet Care Contract is pretty useless. Most of them aren’t really contracts per se, for a number of legal reasons. A personal letter to your heirs and other directives attached to your will fall into that category. They’re not legally effective, for the most part. They don’t give someone else to make decisions about your pets.
The Durable Limited Power of Attorney for Pet Care is used to designate someone to make decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated or otherwise unavailable. It’s effective until you revoke it or you die. You get to decide under which circumstances it becomes effective and how extensive it is.
A Pet Trust sets aside some assets to care for your pets and nominates a trustee to manage and spend those assets. Usually you’ll be the original trustee. After you die, your nominated successor trustee takes over.
Every complete estate plan should make sure someone is immediately available to make decisions on the health and care of your pets and animals, and should also provide for their long term safety and care. Specifically for your pet — I cannot overemphasize that simply mentioning them in your will is insufficient.
So what if you don’t have a complete estate plan? Well, why not get the forms that I use with clients? They’re not rocket science. Unless you’ve got a terribly complicated situation, you can fill them out yourself, and get them witnessed and notarized. You don’t need an attorney, and by downloading the forms, you agree that no attorney/client relationship is formed.
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Your forms will be delivered as Microsoft Word files. Open the file, fill in the details.
The forms will be emailed to you. Please allow five minutes for delivery.
If you have any questions, please contact me HERE.
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