Who will take care of my dog or cat when I die?
Pet care after the death of an owner
Whether you think of your pets simply as your loving companions, or as your (admittedly, very furry) children, you want the best for them, so it’s natural to worry about what might happen to them if you die before they do. Who will take care of pets after the death of an owner, and how can you make sure your puppies are well cared for?
Don’t worry There are ways to set up protections for pets so they get all the petting and treats they deserve when you’re not around. Here’s what you should do…
1. Think about the care that pets will need after the owner’s death.
Does your pet need a safe yard to play in, lots of time and attention, veterinary care? Do they need long walks in the morning, space to explore or lots of toys? Do they play well with other pets and children?
Before you can choose someone to care for your pet when you die, you must find out exactly what that will mean. Take the time now to make a list of:
- What your pet needs.
- How much it costs to provide those things every month and every year.
- People you know who have the time, space and (potentially) money to offer those things.
With the list in hand, you can …
2. Choose who will take care of your cat or dog when you die.
What happens to pets when their owners die? You may choose someone who has cared for your pet before, perhaps when you went on vacation, or simply a friend or relative who loves your pet and meets all the criteria on your list.
Once you have chosen someone, be sure to ask them if they are really willing to accept your pet if something were to happen to you. What happens to pets when their owners die cannot simply be decided by a will: it still needs the cooperation of the people involved.
If you don’t have a friend or relative who can take your pet, there are charities that specialize in finding reliable new owners.
Look for animal shelters in your area, this way pets are cared for in temporary homes until they can be properly rehomed.
Some shelters accept pets while their owners are in the hospital or under care, keeping them in voluntary foster homes. You can also arrange for your pet to be raised permanently with them in the event of your death.
You can have an “emergency dog or cat care” card made to carry in your wallet. This allows emergency service workers to know who to contact to make sure your puppy can be taken into their care and eventually adopted.
These shelters provide care for pets after an owner’s death, but you may still want to leave protection in your will to help them continue their lives.
3. Make provisions for your pets in a will.
Because they are legally considered property, you cannot leave money to your pets in your will. However, you can use a will to appoint a guardian for your pet, someone to care for them in the event of your death. If you already have a will, you can add to it instead of writing a new one.
When providing for pets in a will, it is a good idea to include a back-up guardian in case the person you have chosen is unable to care for your pet when the time comes.
You can leave your guardian some funds in your will specifically for the maintenance and care of your pet. This type of fund sets aside money for the care of the pet, usually with the new owner as the administrator in charge. You can also say what will happen to the remaining funds when your pet dies.
Remember: it is best to talk about your pets in general terms in the will, referring to them as “dogs” or “cats” rather than “Pancho” or “Camila”. This means that you do not have to update it if you adopt more pets.
4. Use a letter of wishes to explain how to care for your pets after your death.
A letter of wishes is a useful additional step when planning for the future of pets. It is essentially a set of instructions to help your executor and beneficiaries better understand your wishes, guarded with your will. You can use it to explain exactly how to take care of your pet: what to feed them, favorite walks or strange habits, in fact all the little things that only an owner knows.
5. Tell your family and friends what should happen to your pets if you die.
Remember, it can take a while for the will to be found after a death, so it is not always immediately clear what happens to pets when their owners die. It is a good idea to tell your friends and family what to do, carry a card in your wallet and leave instructions at home just in case.
? Don’t forget to give your pets a big hug ?
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