Whether you consider them your little buddy, your fur baby or your all around significant other, there is no denying that your dog is as important to you as anyone else in your life. More young people than ever are choosing to have pets over children. And just like children, taking proper considerations for them should anything happen to you is vital to their futures.
One of the best ways you can safeguard your dog’s future is by writing them into your will. Wills are one of the most basic estate planning documents a person can have made, often take less than a day to draft and are relatively inexpensive.
If you don’t take care of your pet, no one will
Obviously, the law regards dogs differently than humans. Even if you consider them your children, North Carolina law identifies pets as property; meaning that in the eyes of the law, your furry friend is no different than a painting or potted plant. That distinction means that little stock is put on their welfare should you become unavailable.
Toronto-based estate planner, Barry Seltzer, shared some frightening numbers in an interview with Bankrate when he said, “The Humane Society said recently that 3 (million) to 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year because their owners fail to provide for them.” If you do not have a plan for how your pet should be taken care of, they probably won’t be.
Adding your pet to your will
Including instructions for your pet in your will is not as complicated as it might seem. If you do not have a will already, know that they are fairly simple to create with the aid of an estate planning attorney. If you do have a will, they can easily be modified to include your wishes for your pet.
You will want to come to the drafting session with certain things in mind, including:
- Who will take care of your pet if you are unable to?
- What types of medications does your pet require? Will the caregiver have access to the prescription card?
- Does your pet require a specialized diet?
- Is your dog a flight risk? Are there special procedures for walks?
- Does your dog suffer any emotional ailments such as anxiety?
- Does your dog require a certain type of stimulation or exercise?
- Who is your dog’s veterinarian?
Consider each of the challenges that you face with your dog and be prepared to explain the solution in detail. Even if the caregiver you name knows your dog and their quirks, having a formal document explaining your dog’s needs is an excellent safety net if something goes wrong.
If your dog has special needs, it may also be a good idea to set up a trust. A trust will provide money for the caregiver to purchase prescriptions, specific foods, doctor visits and so forth.
When there is an accident or other serious event, pets are often the first ones to be overlooked. Make sure that is not the case for your canine companion – have plans made for them ahead of time.