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If Your Dog or Cat Outlives You

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Have you ever worried about what would happen to your dog or cat if something happened to you? This is a serious consideration for many people, especially those who don’t have extended family or whose family would be unable or unwilling to care a pet.

There are some steps you can take to help ensure the well-being of your pet should you no longer be able to care for him or her, or if you were to pass away before your dog or cat.

One of the first things you want to do is sit down and really think about who you trust and who might have a situation where they would be willing and able to be your pet’s guardian in your absence. Be considerate of what limitations they might have, physically, financially and with their jobs, family, health and their own pets. Also think about who your dog or cat likes and who truly likes them.

You’ll want to have three people that you can rely on. Contact the people on your list and ask them if they’d be willing to take on guardian role if the situation were to arise. The reason you want to have three people, is because situations change and someone who you thought they would be able to help, might not be able for various reasons, and you want someone else on the list to be next in line.

Having a Last Will and Testament is also a very important part of your planning. Make sure it spells out specially who you would like to care for your dog and include their contact information.

If you are able, you might want to plan for your pet’s financial expenses in your absence. Think about what expense would be involved to keep your pet in good care. If you can leave that money to the appointed guardian, that would be very considerate and appreciated.

Sometimes things happen that are very sudden, and one day you might not come home. If you live alone, this is a very scary thing. You’ve probably seen the My Dog is Home Alone wallet cards and key tags. They really are a very good idea.

Not everyone has close friends and not everyone has someone to turn to or to ask for help. If this is your situation, also think about what sanctuaries might be willing to care for your dog. Obtain information about them and call and talk to someone about your situation. If you are able to make a donation or leave any resource to them in your Will, that would also be very appreciated.

Your Will, in regards to caring for a pet left behind, is not enforceable, however it does provide information for your Executor about how you would like to have things carried out.

You could also set up a Trust for your pet, should something happen to you. This money can be specific for caring for your pet, but again, no one can truly ensure that it will be spent exactly as you wish.

It’s not just single people that things happen to either. Car accidents and other awful things happen to couples, and not all couples have family beyond themselves.

It’s important to give this a little thought. If you have adult children that would step up to the plate or if you have a wonderful best friend that would never let you down, then great, but not everyone does.

There is a book called, When Your Pet Outlives You, by Charlotte Alexander and David Congalton that is well worth reading.

It’s important that your wishes on this topic be known before something happens to you, if it should, so others can plan and be prepared, just in case the situation were to arise.

We all hope and pray that this situation is one our beloved pets never have to cope with, but as their guardian, it’s part of your responsibility to plan for them, in case it does. The peace of mind you will have after planning will be well worth the discomfort of addressing the possible situation.

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