Your estate plan gives you a lot of tools. You can decide what to do with your assets, pick a guardian for your children (if they’re still minors), make your medical wishes known, and much more. When people think of leaving money in a will, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more you can do.
With that in mind, do you need to do anything for your pet? Say your children have all moved out of the house and had kids of their own. To fill the home with a bit more fun and activity, you’ve bought a new dog. You know full well that the dog may outlive you, however, so what happens if you pass away first?
An emergency plan and a long-term plan
First and foremost, you may want to create an emergency plan. If you have a medical emergency and have to be rushed to the hospital, for instance, you want a friend or family member to know that your pet needs care. They should be able to get into your home, provide food and water, etc.
This friend may also be able to adopt your pet and care for them moving forward. You definitely want to talk about this in advance, but they may be willing to do whatever is necessary — especially if it begins as a short-term emergency and then turns into a longer situation.
However, remember that your pet is property and is valuable. Do your heirs expect to get it? If a friend simply takes the pet and says it’s what you would have wanted, are they going to contest that it should legally go to them?
To prevent something like this, it’s wise to have an official estate plan in place with all of the necessary documentation. You at least want to put in your will that you are leaving your pet to a specific person after your passing. This way, even if your heirs are not happy with the choice, your desires are very clear.
Setting up your plan
Your pet is just one potential part of your estate plan. Be sure you know what steps to take to get the entire thing set up.