California Estate Planning Blog
Category: Animal Care Trust

Boarding Your Pet This Holiday Season? First Choose a Guardian

If you’re boarding your pet while you travel this holiday season, you most likely consider what you can do to make him feel “at home” while you’re gone – picking a reliable, friendly facility, bringing his usual food, maybe a favorite toy or a sweatshirt that smells like you. 

If you love your fur baby that much, you should also make an emergency plan for him just in case.

How Can I Best Plan for Boarding My Pet?

Consider a Guardian.  If you never came back to retrieve your pet, the boarding facility would eventually have to  turn the pet over to Animal Care or a local shelter.  To avoid that result, most boarding facilities request that you list an emergency contact when you fill out the intake paperwork.  Consider who you list an important decision: have a conversation with the chosen person and make sure that he or she would be immediately willing to take in your pet should anything happen to you. 

Unfortunately, presuming a family member will adopt your pet is risky choice.  If the moment arrives, allergies or economic limitations may prevent them from giving your pet a permanent new home.  Once you have picked the right person and confirmed his or her participation, you can officially name him or her as your pet’s Guardian in your estate plan.

Provide for Your Pet’s Future Care.  Every loving pet owner knows that raising animals as part of your family can be costly.  Pet Insurance can help you manage medical expenses, but costs like food, litter, grooming and walking are specific to your family and can change over time.  You would likely want your pet’s Guardian to maintain your pet’s quality of life without imposing financial strain. 

The best way to accomplish this goal is through an Animal Care Trust, which allows you to leave a certain amount of money for the care of your pet after you pass away.  You don’t need to be a billionaire  to make an Animal Care Trust.  Just estimate how much you spend on your pet in a year and multiply it by the rest of his life expectancy.  If you are feeling generous, you could also leave some money directly for the Guardian, to show your appreciation. 

Describe Your Wishes for Your Pet.  A responsible pet Guardian would want to know exactly how you would care for your pet.  As part of the Animal Care Trust, you can leave specific instructions about your pet’s food, preferences, and behavior.  You can also appoint an Animal Care Panel to check in on your pet periodically and make sure the Guardian is putting the Trust funds to good use.

LifeLadder’s founding attorney Kathryn Taps has made planning long-term care for companion animals a “pet project”.  For that reason, Animal Care Trusts are a complimentary addition to any LifeLadder Estate Plan.  Get started by downloading our Pet Trust Worksheet below.

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