Why Pet Planning

We at Loquvam Law are animal lovers.  As a matter of fact, 100% of us at the firm are pet owners.  100%!  As such, we know one thing for certain that is universal among pet owners: pets are members of the family.  That being the case, it may be hard for pet owners to believe, but future planning for the welfare of your animals is one of the most frequently overlooked areas of estate planning.  People often make verbal plans with friends or family members, or often times simply overlook or forget to include their pets in their estate planning, but given our animals’ inability to ensure their own welfare in this modern world, it’s absolutely essential to include them in your estate planning.  No estate plan would be complete without this important step.

Creating an estate plan is the best way to take care of those we love when we are no longer here to care for them ourselves.  We understand that it is important in doing this for children, but what about our pets who have given us so much love and enjoyment?  Most of us assume that we will live longer than our beloved pet companions.  While it is troubling to consider, the data tell a very clear story.  A good estimate is that at over 500,000 pets are put to sleep each year because they outlive their owners. When an owner fails to provide for a pet’s continuing care, consequences can be terrible.  Often, if there is no family to take the pet companion, the pet will end up in a shelter, where, at best, it will not receive the care the owner would prefer; at worst–and in most cases–the pet will be put to sleep.  In view of these bleak circumstances, the Humane Society of the United States encourages pet owners to consider the repercussion of not adequately planning and providing for their pets.

While many other law firms do not make arrangements for pets, Loquvam Law makes estate planning which includes your pets a priority.  Other law firms may shy away from animal topics because pets are considered property under the law. Pets are seen in much the same manner as furniture or collectibles. We, here at Loquvam Law, are estate-planning professionals who are knowledgeable and sympathetic to pet issues.  We want to make sure your intentions for your pets are realized and that your pets, whom you consider as family members, are well taken care of in the event of your death or disability.

For many of us, the extent of what we would do for our pets know no limit.  Our pets are a fundamental and important part of our lives. According to one survey, over two-thirds of dog and cat owners consider them to be like members of their family.  Just a few years ago, 64,000,000 American households owned at least one pet; today, that figure is 71,000,000.  In 1998, 34% of dogs slept in the same bed as their owners; today, that figure is 42%.  Americans now spend $41,000,000,000 a year on their pets, and that number is expected to reach $52,000,000,000 (that’s right—billion) in the next few years.

It is evidentially well reported that senior citizens and those with health concerns receive significant rewards by having a pet.  For example, the person’s blood pressure is lowered, exercise and circulation are increased, anxiety is reduced, mental sharpness is boosted, and interaction with the pet decreases loneliness.  Because pets are also an amusement, they can reduce the people’s stress by causing them not to dwell on their own health issues but focus instead on the needs of their pet.  It is also well documented that the presence of pets in nursing homes increases the longevity of the residents.

Despite the aging of the U.S. population, an increase in pet ownership, the growing importance of pets in their owners’ lives and an increase in spending on pets, pet owners often do not consider what will happen to their pets if they die or becomes disabled. Many of us try to please our pets almost as much as they try to please us. But for all that we do, this is one area that most of us do not consider.  What happens to them if we’re not here to care for them or speak on their behalf?  None of us knows what will happen tomorrow and the unexpected can and does happen.

Until recently many pet owners encountered legal barriers when trying to provide care for their pets.  The good news is that recent law changes in most states have removed those problems. You can now create legally recognized and enforceable documents that provide care for your pets by creating a pet trust. This trust is legally sanctioned and binding and can provide for the care and maintenance of your pets in the case of your disability or death.

Our estate-planning firm can guide you in the creation and use of pet trusts and pet protection agreements with enforceable provisions concerning the care of your pet companions.  With you planning for your animals in advance, they may be protected and cared for as you would have cared for them yourself.  You will rest easier knowing that your pets will be well cared for as you want them to be.  Please call us and set up an initial free appointment for consultation; we are here to serve you.