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Do you have a furry friend who loves you unconditionally? If so, you know your pet relies on you to meet its needs. What would your pet do without you? Although pets are legally considered to be property, to those of us who own pets, they’re more like family. And so, just as you make preparations to care for human family members after your passing, preparations need to be made to care for your pets too. Here are some options available to ensure your pet is cared for if something happens to you.

Pet Trust
Of all the options available, a Pet Trust is the most extensive. Here’s the basic layout of a Pet Trust: You choose a beneficiary/caregiver to leave funds to in order to take care of your pet. You also appoint someone as a trustee to make sure your pet receives the proper treatment from the caregiver. One of the advantages to a Pet Trust is that it is not just designed for if you pass away. If you become disabled or are moved to a nursing home, your Pet Trust can ensure that your pet stays with you. When your Pet Trust is written, it is important to be detailed. Name all of the expenses you want to be covered by your trust.

Your Will
If you don’t want to set up a formal trust, you can leave your pet, along with a sum of money, to whoever has agreed to take your pet. The main drawback of this method is that your pet might not be cared for right away, considering that it can take time for the instructions in your will to be carried out. Another concern is that there is no guarantee that your pet care provisions will actually take place. Note: To ensure your wishes are met, you can supplement your will with a Pet Trust.

Continuing Pet Care Programs
Although not available everywhere, there is also the option to leave your pet in a Continuing Pet Care Program. These programs are offered through veterinary schools and no-kill shelters. For a $1,000 nondeductible enrollment fee and a $15,000 donation (may be partially tax deductible), your pet will receive lifetime care or will be given an adoptive home.

Your DPA
If the above options are out of the question, you may also add your pet to your Durable Power of Attorney. Your “agent” can then make decisions regarding your pet, such as spending money for pet care or choosing a caregiver. If you take this route, leave specific instructions (as you would in a Pet Trust). Who is your pet’s vet? Where do you take your pet to be groomed? What brand of food does your pet eat? Which toy can they not live without? No one knows your pet like you do, so share everything you can.

Whether you choose to use a Pet Trust, put funds for your pet in a will, leave your pet to a Continuing Pet Care Program, or simply add your pet to your durable power of attorney, leave some form of instructions for the care of your pet in case something happens to you. Don’t leave your pet’s future up to chance.

NOTE: Legal matters related to your pet’s care are best handled by a qualified attorney. While we are not attorneys, we will be happy to assist you in planning for adequate monies to be allocated in your financial plan for pet care. Please let us know if we can assist you with this in any way.

Heritage Financial Planning, LLC

We help individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their objectives.

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