Our pets are a comfort, a reason to leave the house, and probably really confused as to why we’re suddenly around all the time during the COVID-19 quarantines. All the better reason to start a pet plan.
While the basics about your pet may seem obvious, sharing them could make a world of difference for your furry (or not so furry) friend. Before you start to get sad, this doesn’t have to be about you leaving this world. What if you had to go away on an unexpected trip, when we’re finally permitted to, and your usual caretaker (besides a spouse or kids) was not around? Your pet’s world revolves around you, so it’s not easy for them either. By having all this info readily available it creates a smooth transition regardless of the scenario. Let’s dig into what details to share:
Breed | Birthday: Estimate if you’re not sure; this could also be the adoption date.
Feeding habits: Portion sizes, dietary restrictions (allergies), special treats
Veterinarian: Contact info and medical records
Medical conditions/medications: Most recent vaccinations (along with the frequency), heartworm meds, flea/tick prevention, bone/joint/muscle issues, skin irritations
Pet insurance: Company, account number, online login info, and how to file a claim (this should
Favorite toys: Lacrosse balls, squeaky duck, laser pointer
Favorite activities: Swimming, long hikes, agility training, watching nature documentaries, Dr. Phil…
Quirks: Scared of thunder, doesn’t like to be picked up, won’t use the litter box if you’re watching
Other pertinent details: Microchip info, grooming tips, pedigree papers
This should be enough to get you started, but feel free to get as specific as you like. You can even create a little memory scrapbook to overwhelm someone with cuteness. Plus, if you’re one of those owners who has a social media account loaded with pet photos and stories be sure and share that info too.
Naming a Pet Guardian
Quite simply, who would you want to take care of your pets if you couldn’t?
As strange and unjust as it is, the law sees pets as property. And since you can’t leave property to your property, you need to name a guardian and make financial arrangements. Once you identify new possible pet parents, talk about it with them to be sure they’ll happily take your little (or big) lovebug into their lives. This is not something that should come as a surprise, to either the new owners or your pet. They should know, and preferably like, each other already.
Since you can’t leave money directly to your pets—remember the whole “pets are property” thing—you can stipulate that the person caring for your pet has access to some four-legged funds. It’s best to also leave a provision in your Will, which we covered in a previous task.
Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that need a just-in-case plan—there are lots of other animals that require our care. A financial advisor we spoke with set up a trust for his horse. Fish, snakes, spiders. Did you know that some parrots can live up to 50 years and get extremely attached to their owners? And turtles can live a whopping 80 to 150 years, so they can outlive us all.
The Everplan has a comprehensive Pets section to help you get this information easily stored and shared. Or you can list out all the details we mentioned above in a digital document and share it with people who might need it. It’s the least you can do for something that brings you so much comfort and joy, even when that something chews up your favorite shoes.