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How to create a plan for your animals if you become unable to care for them

Even with everything going on in the world right now, a lot of people are still putting off creating a plan for if they should become incapable of taking care of their animals. In 2019, a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Brookdale Senior Living found that three out of every five American adults do not have a will. Their numbers fall in line with other surveys conducted over the years. Do you have a plan for what happens if you die? Creating a plan for your animals in case you are unable to take care of them is often overlooked. Who will take care of your pet or Service Dog? Learn how to create a plan for your animals if you become unable to care for them.

Do you have a plan in case you become physically unable to care for them — or worse? We all try to give the best lives to our animals, but what if you’re no longer able to provide the care they deserve?

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You owe it to your partner to plan for their life after yours.

Some will their dogs to loved ones, some drop them off at the local pound, and some people leave money in trust for their animals upon their passing, which provides for the monetary needs for care of their partner until they pass also.

Don’t count on your friends and loved ones to make room for your animals.

One of my closest friends seemed to have a plan. He set up final wishes for his fully-trained aging Service Dog and his Service Dog in Training. However, when he suddenly died, his dogs were listed on Craig’s List, free to a good home, due to a situation beyond our control. Luckily, they were scooped up by a rescue. That was a terrible time for all of us left behind. Prior planning isn’t just for the person that’s passing, in fact, it’s mostly for those left behind, to ease the awful truth that you have passed.

While we all know that final planning is a difficult and uncomfortable topic, final planning or the lack there of, on our parts, will be used or missed upon our inevitable passing. If you don’t have a current plan, a will, you’re not alone. T This being said, do you have any plan for your loved pets and/or Service Dog? Is your plan viable? What happens if “Plan A” falls through?

The laws governing wills vary from state to state. If you aren’t familiar with them, consider consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or estate planner in your area. Before you do, brush up on these 10 things you should know about writing a will.

Learn the difference between a will and a trust.

Wills and trusts serve very different but important purposes. The main difference for pet owners is that a will can be tied up in probate, leaving your plan for your pets unresolved for weeks or more. As well, a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it, which may be necessary if you are incapacitated in some way.

If you only need to take care of your pets, you can create a specific type of trust like a Pet Protection Agreement. A Pet Protection Agreement is a document that lets you decide who will take care of your animals and how they will be cared for. Most importantly, a Pet Protection Agreement allows you to name a Pet Guardian: the person who will be responsible for taking care of your animal(s) in case something happens to you. You can leave money to care for your animals, but it’s optional. Like a pet trust, the Pet Protection Agreement animal trust does not need to go through probate court, which can take months if you pass away. No one wants the court to decide an animal’s fate.

It’s easier than ever before to create a will or a trust.

LegalZoom.com, an online provider of individualized legal documents, allows you to create a Pet Protection Agreement online. If you have a more complicated estate, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in creating trusts to make sure that all of your needs are cared for.

Everyone needs to decide what is right for their own Partner, because they are not free to decide for themselves. Let us all take a moment, just one, to think about who our dogs are, and what would be best for them. Let us do it unselfishly, and without politics. These are our Partners. They are our “right arm”. These are the beings that gave us the freedom and courage to GO and DO.

Everyone dies. What happens to our loved animals when we do is another story. Don’t you think that they have earned the time and painful thought that it takes to be sure that they’re safe? Who will speak for them when the time comes? Birth and death are the only truly unavoidable things. Plan ahead. It’s important.

 

Learn more about voluntary, community-defined training and behavior standards for handlers and their Service Dogs at USSDR.org

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