What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About Financial Planning

Why Every Pet Owner Should Include Pets in Their Estate Plans

Where would your pet go if something were to happen to you?  Would they be loved and looked after?  No one expects their pets to outlive them, but if you have an estate plan, including your pets is one of the most important and benevolent things a guardian can do for them.

When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough

Many people don’t bother to worry about their pets because a friend, relative or neighbor has agreed to take them if something ever happened.  While that is always a kind gesture and and may ease your mind, an informal agreement like that is usually not enough. Chances are that person isn’t expecting this to happen either, and if it were to, the reality sets in quickly. For some, the loss of the friend or relative is too much to handle on its own, and under the stress of grieving they feel unable to take on the animal they once promised to care for.

In other instances, living situations may have shifted.  Their financial situation may have changed so that they can no longer afford to care for your pet, perhaps they now have children with severe allergies, or their property does not allow animals.  There are so many unforeseen factors that may affect someone’s ability to keep their promise, however well-meaning it was.  Rescue groups and shelters repeatedly see relatives seeking to dump their deceased family member’s pet on someone else. who are eager to be relieved of the responsibility.   This is heartbreaking and equally distressing to the animal who is grieving their beloved companion, too.

Pet Financial Planning: What to Consider 

Eve Kaplan, Certified Financial Planner at New Jersey-based Kaplan Financial Advisers, LLC says on her blog, “A good pet owner knows that a pet may outlive him/her so provisions must be made that go beyond a simple will or informal handshake agreements.”  If you’re ready to put a plan into action, the first step is to decide on a guardian.   “Specifying a legal guardian is very important,” Kaplan advises, “and making sure the guardian is compensated – if needed – also is critical.”   You might even consider specifying two guardians, just in case. Remember that you’ll want bonded animals to stay together whenever possible.

Next, you need to decide on the funds to cover costs of your pets’ care.  This varies per animal and household, but keep in mind its better to have too much than not enough.  You give your pets the very best, so ensure they get that same quality of care even if you’re not around.

If you don’t have anyone suitable to be your pets’ guardian, look into sanctuaries nearest you and take a visit.  Make sure to draw up an agreement with them before adding the organization into your financial plan.

Finding a Financial Planner That Cares 

Forty-one states have laws that specifically allow pet trusts, but creating a pet trust isn’t quite a mainstream practice just yet, although it should be.  That said, not every financial planner is going to see the importance of the trust as you do or be as compassionate as they should.

“It’s important to locate an attorney who handles your personal estate documents and is equipped to take pet estate work seriously and not laugh at it as some trivial pursuit,” Kaplan adds.  After all, your pets are family, so make sure your financial adviser sees them that way, too.

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About Marissa Weber

I graduated with a BA in Communications from Monmouth University, and am thrilled to combine my passions with writing. I have been vegan for over a decade and am a board member of a pet rescue/adoption agency, so my day is filled with animal activism from sunrise to sundown! I wouldn't have it any other way. I also enjoy working on my yoga practice, world travel, and getting tattoos.

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