Many of us have beloved pets. I have two cats, Zorro & Zinnia. One question that individuals fail to ask when doing planning for who will care for them when they can no longer care for themselves is: What happens to my pets when I need someone to care for me?
Often when an elder needs care requiring placement away from home, they resist moving because it may require separation from their pet or it could leave the pet without care. The thought of leaving a pet without care can be as strong as leaving a child without care.
With a little planning a pet can be cared for even when an owner is unable to do so. While some nursing homes and assisted living facilities allow an elder to keep a pet in their rooms, this should be verified before moving into the facility. Some facilities require additional pet deposits and that the owners be physically able to care for the pet while it is at the facility.
If caring for a pet is no longer possible, a pet owner can designate, in writing, a pet caregiver in the owner’s absence. The pet owner can also authorize an agent under a durable power of attorney to provide support for the care of a pet out of the pet owner’s assets.
In addition, pet owners should consider the care of their pets after death. In the pet owner’s will, the owner should give the pet to a particular caregiver after the owner’s death and create a pet trust to designate funds for the pet’s care. The funds left in trust for the pet should be reasonable since courts can reduce the amount in trust if it is excessive. Some simple planning with the pet’s vet and the pet owner’s estate planning attorney can establish a safe amount allowing for the care of the pet for the pet’s life.