Who Will Care for Your Dog if You No Longer Can?

It’s a difficult thing to discuss, but one of the most important things that a person can do is to make a will.  The thought of death is never a pleasant thought, but being prepared for the unexpected is a prudent thing to do.  Obviously, when preparing a will, we make provisions for those we love, such as a surviving spouse and children.  Often we stipulate the division of our possessions, etc.  But unfortunately people frequently overlook a beloved family member.

When hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley left a $12 million trust fund in her will to her little Maltese named Trouble, many people were shocked.  As it turned out, Trouble had been aptly named.  As a result of his inheritance, the little dog received death threats and now has to have bodyguards.  His trust fund was eventually reduced by the court to $2 million, but he’s still living a good life in a mansion without his mistress.

It is highly unlikely that many of us will be able to make such lavish provisions for our pets as Ms. Helmsley, but it is a good idea to think about what will happen to our dogs when we can no longer provide for their care.    Fortunately, many of us are in a position to choose a caretaker for our dog in the event that something was to occur.  Additionally, it is a good idea to set aside some funds to provide for our dog’s continued care.

Making a will is crucial to assure that your wishes will be carried forth in the event of your death.  If you don’t currently have a will you should have one prepared, especially if you want to provide for your pets.  You want to avoid any confusion over your pets’ future after you’re gone.  If you are planning on a friend or relative being your dog’s guardian in the event of your death, be sure to discuss these arrangements with them and make sure that they are willing to carry forth your wishes.  You don’t want them to be unaware of what you’re doing or of their responsibilities; and you don’t want your pets to be left uncared for if something happens to you.  Everyone involved should be clear about your wishes.  You don’t want to have your pets sent to an animal shelter because people didn’t know what you wanted.

The site Animal Legal and Historical Center provides some good information about wills and trusts.  It will give you some helpful tips about estate planning for pets if you need assistance.

If you already have a will then it is not difficult to have a provision added providing for your pets.  Once you have designated a person to care for your animals, you will need to decide on a sum to provide for their care for the remainder of their lives.  Calculate how much you spend on each pet per year and estimate how long your pet may be expected to live.  Consider pet food, vet care and other expenses.  Add the cost of any major health problems and how much treatment may cost.  You might want to include pet insurance to assist in the event of an accident which results in unexpected expenses.  You’ll have to decide if you want your pet’s new caretaker to go to extreme measures to treat diseases and health problems.  Keep in mind that some treatments may cost thousands of dollars.  These are tough decisions.  If you leave most of your money to your pet for possible medical treatment in the future it will cut down on what is available to leave to other people.

As difficult as it is to consider, your pets may outlive you.  For their sake it’s a good idea to make plans for a future without you.  Planning ahead is just one more way you can confirm your love for your pets.  A will assures that they will be cared for if you are no longer available to care for them yourself.

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