What can you do now to prepare for the
What if you have no one
to designate as a potential caregiver for your pets?
The Importance of Selecting Potential Caregivers for Your Pets
Pet Trusts Basics Q&A with Professor Gerry W. Beyer
Considerations you should
think about before selecting a lifetime care program or facility
A list of questions to
ask the organization you are considering
Help for Pet Owners: Breed Rescue Group Listing (Updated July 2010)
Help For Pet Owners: Finding A New Home For A Pet That You No Longer Can Care For (PDF)
Help for Pet Owners: Organizations that Provide Financial Assistance for Pet Medical-Related Expenses (Microsoft Excel)
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for the lifetime care for your pets.
you do now to prepare for the unexpected?
if you have no one to designate as a potential caregiver for your
Discuss the situation with your veterinarian, local
pet sitters and local animal welfare organizations. They may be
able to help you find the right people that are capable of caring
for your pets should you no longer be able to.
If you are unable to identify a caregiver for your pets, you might consider appointing several individuals, such as veterinarians, family members, and friends, to an "animal care panel" which would be charged with the responsibility of locating a suitable caregiver. The panel could use various means to locate a proper caregiver such as advertising in a local newspaper and consulting with local animal welfare organizations. The panel would interview the prospective caregivers and select the person(s) it felt would provide the best care for your pet(s).
Another option is a lifetime care program or
facility; a viable alternative for pet owners who may not
have a potential caregiver to leave their pets to.
The Importance of Selecting Potential Caregivers for Your Pets
by Amy Shever, Director of 2nd Chance 4 Pets
As guardian's of companion animals we are faced with making many decisions; "What's the best diet?", "Are they getting the right amount of exercise?", "Do they receive the right vitamins and supplements?", "What's going to be the new toy of the month?". Perhaps one of the most difficult questions we must make is, "Who is the right person who will care for them should I no longer be able to?". This is a difficult question for many of us, especially if our pet has "special needs" or if we have no suitable friends or relatives to care for them. Do we leave this decision up to a stranger or do we make the decision ourself? In an effort to find the ideal caregiver for by pets when I die, I reached out to my vet, vet techs, pet sitter as well as animal welfare and rescue groups for help. It's not always a simple task and definitely not an easy answer; however, we made the commitment to provide care for our pets when we adopted them and this is an important obligation as part of this commitment.
We hope that the information provided in our newsletters and Web site can help you appropriately plan for the lifetime care of your pets and help you address this very important question. Before you decide on the next "toy of the month" ask yourself, "Who will be my pets' caregiver should I no longer be able to care for them myself?".
Pet Trusts Basics - Q&A with Professor Gerry W. Beyer
Q. What is "pet trust"?
A. A pet trust is legal technique you may use to be sure your pet receives proper care after your death or disability.
Q. How does a pet trust work?
A. You choose a trusted person or bank ("the trustee") and provide them with enough money or property to financially care for your pet according to your instructions. The trustee is bound by duty to oversee the expenses for the care of your pet by a designated caregiver.
Q. What are the main types of pet trusts?
A. There are two main types of pet trusts. The first type, called a "traditional pet trust," is effective in all states. You instruct the trustee to help the person who is providing care (the "beneficiary") to your pet after you die by paying for the pet's expenses according to your directions as long as the beneficiary takes proper care of your pet. The second type of pet trust, called a "statutory pet trust," is authorized in more than half of the states. A statutory pet trust is a basic plan and does not require the pet owner to make as many decisions regarding the terms of the trust. The state law "fills in the gaps" and thus a simple provision in a will such as, "I leave $1,000 in trust for the care of my dog, Rover" may be effective.
Q. Which type of pet trust is "better"?
A. Many pet owners will prefer the traditional pet trust because it provides the pet owner with tremendous control for the pet's care. For example, you may specify who manages the property (the trustee), the pet's caregiver (the beneficiary), the specific expenses the trustee will pay for, the type of care the animal will receive, what happens if the beneficiary can no longer care for the animal, and finally, disposition after the pet dies.
Q. What if my state does not have a special law authorizing pet trusts?
A. You may still create a traditional pet trust even if your state does not have a pet trust statute.
Q. When is a pet trust created?
A. You may create a pet trust either (1) while you are still alive (an "inter vivos: or "living" trust) or (2) when you die by including the trust provisions in your will (a "testamentary" trust).
Q. Which is better - an inter vivos or testamentary pet trust?
A. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. An inter vivos trust takes effect immediately and thus will be functioning as soon as you die or become disabled. This avoids delay between your death and the property being available for the pet's care. However, an inter vivos trust often has additional start-up costs and administration fees. These costs are higher because the pet owner must transfer property to the trust now and the trustee has duties with regard to that property even before the trustee is doing anything with regard to the pet. A testamentary trust is the less expensive option because the trust does not take effect until you die and your will is declared valid by a court ("probating the will"). However, there may be no funds available to care for the pet during the gap between your death and the time your will is probated. In addition, a testamentary trust does not protect your pet if you become disabled and unable to care for your pet.
Q. Where can I get a pet trust?
A. You may consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and who has experience with pet trusts. Alternatively, there are businesses such as PetGuardian (www.petguardian.com) which provides a pet trust program. Note that these businesses do not provide legal advice and are not authorized to practice law.
Professor Buyer received his J.D., summa cum laude, from the Ohio State University and his LL.M. and J.S.D. degrees from the University of Illinois. Professor Beyer maintains extensive research conducted on pet trusts at http://www.ProfessorBeyer.com.
Professor Beyer joined the St. Mary's University School of Law faculty in 1981 and has served as a visiting professor at several other law schools including Boston College, Southern Methodist University, the University of New Mexico, and Santa Clara University. Professor Beyer is an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and maintains membership in the American Bar Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, and the College of the State Bar of Texas.
you should think about before selecting a lifetime care program
Thoroughly evaluate a facility or program before you
"sign up". You may consider engaging an attorney to finalize
the arrangements or contract with the program you select. If the
program sounds like a good fit for your pets do visit the facility
before making your final decision.
following is a list of questions to ask the organization you are
How long has the program existed? How is the program funded? Is
the program appropriately licensed? What happens to the pets if
the program is unable to continue? What is the relative experience
and training of the employees and owners? What is the pet to person
ratio? How much human attention does each pet receive on a daily
What is the financial commitment required for each pet? How much
has to be paid in advance?
What is their capacity for pets? What are the physical conditions
of the facility? What type of space do the pets have (IE are they
kept in cages)?
Are there references you can discuss the program with?
Are pets adopted out or do they remain at a facility permanently?
What does their adoption process entail? How do they follow up with
adoptions? What is the programs policy about returning pets?
What level of veterinary care is provided? Is veterinary care administered
by licensed veterinarians or by interns? Do pets receive regular
examinations? How are medical emergencies handled? What is their
position on euthanasia? (You might consider meeting the veterinarians
that support the program)
What type of food do they feed their pets? When are the pets fed?
Will they accommodate special diets?
What type of exercise routine is typical for the pets in their
Does the program accept pets regardless of age and medical needs?
Will they honor special burial requests?
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