EMERGENCY AND ESTATE PLANNING STEP BY STEP GUIDE


A Temporary Short-Term, or Emergency Plan

A temporary short-term situation would be a brief hospital stay, an illness or a family emergency. You may need to leave immediately to be somewhere or you may be taken to the hospital.

If an event is planned such as a vacation trip or minor surgery, it’s of course usual to have a family member or friend care for your pets, or you may use a pet sitter or boarding facility. But what if it turns into a much longer event? Will your family or friends care for your pets for a month, or two months? Can you pay for a pet sitter or boarding for a month or more?

Many people are now experiencing longer term events that require them to either find someone to care for their pets or they have to surrender them to a shelter. It is possible at any age, but especially as we get older, for small accidents to turn into a hospital stay and then become an inpatient stay in a rehabilitation facility. With Covid-19, many people found themselves hospitalized along with other members of their family and it was difficult to find someone to take their pets for what might be a long recuperation period.


What are your options for pet care in these situations?

1. A family member or friend-Usually your best choice is to have someone you and your pets know take your pets, but situations change and people are not always able to take on your pets. It's important to have your designated caregivers sign an agreement to take your pets in order to be sure.

2. Hire a pet sitter-This works for a week, possibly two, but if it turns into weeks or months, it becomes very costly.

3. Board them at a Kennel-Also a very costly option if it goes beyond 1 week.

4. Board them with an animal shelter or rescue organization

Some Shelters or rescue organizations may offer pet care services for free or at a much lower cost than a pet sitter or boarding kennel when the situation turns into a event lasting for weeks or even months when the owner wants to be able to get their pets back home with them. Perpetual Care helps people in these situations so that they are able to keep their pets safe and get them back again when they are ready and able to care for them again.


A Long-Term Plan - Estate Plan

An estate plan is for the situation where the owner passes away or goes into a medical or nursing facility as a permanent resident. Most of us do not expect to have our pets outlive us and so it doesn’t occur to us to make plans for them in our estate planning. However, even prior to Covid-19, over 2.84 million people died in the US in 2018 from all causes, illness, accidents, etc. It is always good to have a plan in place for your pets at any age.

People are also going into assisted living facilities which can create a situation that is long term, but the owner is still alive, however they are unable to care for their pet or have their pet in the assisted living facility. What happens now is that usually the pet owner must give up their pet to a shelter if there is no one to care for them. The owner loses their pet at a time when they need their companionship more than ever.


What are your options in this situation?

1. A family member or friend-Usually your best choice is to have someone you and your pets know take your pets, but situations change and people are not always able to take on your pets. It's important to have your designated caregivers sign an agreement to take your pets in order to be sure.

2. An animal shelter or humane organization Some Shelters or rescue organizations may offer estate planning services, however, be aware that they accept your funds as a donation and then adopt out your pet just like all their pet population and for the time they are housed at the facility, they are in a kennel, not a home.

3. A pet life care center like Perpetual Care-Perpetual Care Life Care Facility is a residential home for pets who are orphaned by the death or disability of their owner.


How to put a plan in place to be ready

Whether your plan is for the short term situations or long term estate planning a pet owner can take these steps to cover both situations.

1. Discuss Your Plan with Potential Caregivers

1. Talk with your family members, friends or the organization and make sure they agree to provide care for your pets for the rest of the pets’ lives.

2. Ask 2 people (a primary and a secondary) to serve as your point of contact for emergency situations where you need help with your pets.

3. Put your emergency contact information on your phone, in your wallet, and in a File of Life Packet in your home. Perpetual Care offers free Emergency Alert cards and File of Life Packets, for you and your pets. Visit our website at www.perpetualcare.org to order them

4. Type up a list of instructions for how to care for your pets and any pet meds they require for your designated caregivers. Remember to keep these instructions updated.

5. If you designate a family member or friend, it is still important to document that relationship and commitment. Why? First, because having your caregivers sign an agreement makes it a real commitment. You may even find that someone who was agreeable initially, backs out once they are asked to sign an agreement. Secondly, it should be part of your estate planning documents to ensure that your pets go only to those you have designated.

2. Document your Plan

6. Perpetual Care provides a template of a pet life care agreement on our website. You can download the template and modify it for your own pets’ information. We suggest you have your attorney review and modify it as well since laws vary by state, then sign and notarize it along with your designated caregivers.

7. If you plan to leave your pets to an organization, they will require you to “fund” their placement with them. Or perhaps you would like to leave funds for that friend or family member who will care for your pets. Perpetual Care provides you with a pet life care trust agreement template that can be used to modify for your pets’ information. Visit our website at www.perpetualcare.org for the pet trust template.

8. Again, you will want to have it reviewed by your attorney, signed by all parties, notarized and included in your estate planning documents.

3. Communicate your Plan

9. If you document your plans for your pet, you can simply make copies of your pet life care agreement for your designated caregivers and your attorney.

10. We also suggest that you have a File of Life Packet that includes an Emergency Alert Card for your pets. Perpetual Care provides pet owners with free File of Life Packets and Emergency Alert Cards. Visit our website at https://www.perpetualcare.org/services

to order them.

4. Keep your Plan Current

11. Review your plan with your designated caregivers at least annually to ensure that nothing has changed and they are still willing and able to care for your pets.


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