Pets are like family to most of us but sometimes during a health crisis, their care can be overlooked. If you have a cat, dog or other pet that requires daily food, water, exercise and love, you may want to assign trusted friends or family the duty of caregiving during an emergency.
Keeping a comprehensive and current file on the care of all household pets is important for emergency caregivers. This should include all the pets’ names, current vaccine records, medicine lists, dietary needs, habits and a daily schedule. Caregivers should have a key to the home and it may be wise to have a back-up in case one person is out of town during an emergency.
Some pet owners will set up a trust, legally establishing provisions for care in the event of their death or incapacitation. Many empty-nesters and seniors cherish their “fur babies” and are more frequently taking into consideration that their pets may in outlive themselves. In Canada, a person cannot legally leave money to their pet (they are considered property) but they can create a formal trust in which a caregiver is selected and the trust is monitored by a trustee.
With the help of a veterinarian, you can estimate the annual cost of caring for your pet, keeping in mind health care costs are likely to rise with age. Before putting anything in writing, make sure the trustee is willing to take on the responsibility for the care of your pet.
You don’t have to be Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her Maltese in 2007, to want the peace of mind that your beloved dog, cat, fish or guinea pig is getting proper attention when you are no longer able to provide adequate care. For more information about creating a trust for your pet, contact your estate lawyer.