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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

What Happens to My Pet if Something Happens to Me?

As a responsible pet owner, you leave happy hour early to walk the dog. You make sure your travel plans always include a good caretaker for your pet, if they have to stay home. You keep them warm in winter, take them for their shots.

And in return, you’ve got a buddy for life. Your pup is happy to see you when you get home. Your horse is loyal to you and carries you safely. Your cat sometimes cuddles up to you (when the mood suits her).

Another part of being a responsible pet owner, and one that can be overlooked, is having a plan for your pet if something happens to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you die. Especially if you are injured and unconscious, you’ll want to make sure your pet has a safe place to go and funds to provide for its care.

If you don’t have a plan, and you are injured or pass away unexpectedly, the court will decide what happens to your pet. Your pup or cat might be relocated to live with your relatives, if they want to care for your pet. But if they don’t have the resources or time–or they have another issue, like allergies–then your pet might end up at a humane society or other animal rescue. In other scenarios, family members can’t agree who should care for your pet, causing tension or even resentment.

Even if you are only injured temporarily, your pet will still need care in the meantime. If they go to live with someone else, not having a written document can make it difficult to get your pet back. This could lead to a dispute.

Relocating larger animals, like horses, is more difficult, and during the time it takes to find new homes, the animals still require care. That care costs money. The money has to come from somewhere.

One of the best things you can do is create a Durable Power of Attorney, which chooses someone you trust to act make your financial decisions if you cannot. This would allow your chosen agent to help support your pet financially.

You can also set up a trust, so if you predecease your pet, you can be sure that the person you choose will be taking care of your beloved little animal. This also gives you time to ensure that the person you choose is totally prepared to welcome your pet and knows about its unique medical history and any other important information (like its favorite activities, toys, and foods). In addition, you can set aside money for the care of the animals.

Every day, animals whose owners have died end up in shelters across the country. If you care about what happens to your pet if something happens to you, contact an attorney with experience in estate planning to make sure your estate plan does the best it can for your pet.

If you need to make a plan, call us today at 970-879-1572

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