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Remember Fido & Garfield

By Tony Snyder | February 5, 2012

This is the time of year when New Year Resolutions are made and, inevitably, getting one’s estate planning put into place is typically listed. As the Will or Trust is written, family members are bequeathed Grandpa’s pocket watch, Mom’s china collection and Aunt Sally’s antique clock. Any estate planning attorney worth their salt will also make sure to account for any minor children and with whom they would be placed in the event that something happened to their parents. But, sadly, one family member who frequently gets left out of the estate planning is our pets.

In the event that something happens to us, where would our pet go? Who would care for the well being of our cats or dogs? Our pets are a member of our family and yet we frequently overlook caring for their needs once we’re gone. Sure, we hear about those extreme cases where an eccentric socialite leaves their multi-million dollar estate to their beloved dog, but that’s probably a situation none of us will have to worry about. Tragically, it’s the other end of the spectrum which is more likely to occur—the “pound”. I’m elated that more shelters are becoming a “No Kill” location for animals, but those shelters are the exception, not the norm.

On the other hand, what if there was a way to alleviate that situation all together? There is, and it’s with a properly drafted estate plan. The great thing about putting your Will or Trust together now, while you still have a say in what happens to your pets, is that you can ensure your final wishes are met and your pet will be provided for, even when you are no longer able. The beauty of putting your wishes on paper is that you are only limited by your imagination. You can pick who your pets care giver will be, where he will live, what sort of food they get, toy type preference, exercise routine, who their veterinarian should be, the ideas are limitless.

Obviously, you should speak with whomever you are naming to care for your pet to make sure they are willing to accept this responsibility. But if they balk at the potential expense to them, you can let them know you have already established a funding source so that there is no out of pocket expense for their willingness to accept care-giver status for your animal

So as you check “Estate Planning” off your To Do List for 2012, please remember to include every member of your family in that plan. It’s the difference between a shelter for your pet or a loving home for a pet who has already lost something most important to them…you!

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