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It’s the end of another year and before you know it, it will be time to make New Year’s Resolutions, or set personal goals for the year. It’s also a good time to update your estate plan for yourself and your family and we know that your pets are part of your family.

Did you know that only 60% of people have a documented estate plan and of those people, only 9% of them have included their pets in their estate plan?

No matter what your age, you just never know what may happen, so it is important to have an estate plan for your pets in case you are no longer able to care for them due to illness, injury or death. If you have decided to make it a goal to document or update your estate plan for next year, Yay! I’m proud of you! Let’s Celebrate!

But wait, before you just give the legal documents a quick look, I also want to give you a heads up, that there is possibly a very significant gap in your current or future estate plan that could have a disastrous impact on your pets, and how to avoid it when you update or create your estate plan in the coming year.

The gap exists when you have a will (not a trust) for your estate plan. A will takes effect when you pass away, however many things could happen prior to a death event that may render you unable to care for your pets and in need of someone to care for your pets. For example, you might become ill with dementia and need to go into a nursing care facility, or you could experience a physical illness or injury and go into a rehabilitation facility and then go into assisted living. In these such cases, your will does not cover your pets. Additionally, a significant percentage of wills go into probate in many states. The period of probate means that the stipulations of your will are held up during the probate process. This means that your pets might not go to the caregiver that you intended to take your pets in that gap of time.

So, what can you do to protect your pets for all events that might occur prior to implementation and enforcement of a will? Perpetual Care offers a Free Pet Life Care Agreement which is a contractual agreement between you and your designated caregivers. The pet life care agreement takes effect immediately so that any time in the future that you are unable to care for your pets, they can be transported to your designated caregivers at any time you are unable to care for them and before a will is probated.

Our Pet Life Care Agreement Template is available upon request from our website at It is in a simple Word document that can be modified for your information and your pets’ information, signed and included into your estate planning documents.

Every week Perpetual Care receives phone calls from people who are going into the hospital, rehab facility or a nursing care facility and they have no one designated to take their pets or we receive calls from family members who are not able or willing to take the pets from their family member who is going into a facility. Protect your pet from these difficult emergency situations that put their lives at risk for going into a shelter if there is no other option or them.

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