As a pet owner, including your pet in your estate plans likely means creating a pet trust. With this estate planning tool, you can name a trustee to manage money or property for your pet’s care, designate a caregiver to look after your pet, and ensure that you leave plenty of money to support your pet in the event of your death or disability.
When it comes to providing the best home for your pet, here are three things your caregiver should know:
- Your pet’s veterinary needs. When do you take your pet in for routine veterinary care; and how can your vet be reached? Does your pet take medications or have a special condition the caregiver should be aware of? Given its breed, are there any conditions your pet is likely to develop as it ages, and should the caregiver have your pet screened for these conditions?
- Your pet’s feeding and exercise needs. What do you want your pet to eat, and when? Is there a certain room in the house where your pet is used to being fed? Are table scraps allowed? What about other treats? Does your pet need daily walks or other exercise? When and where should this happen?
- Your pet’s personality and quirks. Is your dog deathly afraid of thunder storms (and if so, what should the caregiver do to alleviate the panic)? Do you normally leave the television on for your cat when you go out? If the caregiver doesn’t spend much time with your pet, it’s a good idea to provide a written description of all the things you know about your pet that might not be readily apparent.
Covering these bases is a good start toward helping your pet and its caregiver make a smooth and happy transition. Of course, this is just a starting point. The more information you can provide the better. Your estate planning attorney can help you make sure you establish a pet trust that is effective for meeting your pet’s needs.