Estate Planning for Pets

A recently conducted a survey of pet owners and found nearly half (44%) of pet owners have prepared for the future care of their animals should their pets outlive them. Utilizing traditional financial planning instruments such as living trusts, life insurance and annuities, pet owners are able to have peace of mind knowing that their pets’ needs will be met.

Generally,  pet estate plans consist of more than who will care for the pet when you are no longer able. Expenses such as food, doggie day care, veterinarian bills / medication and needed home repairs, because of the pet, should also be considered. Those expenses can result in substantial costs over time.  

Also, one-in-five of all respondents in the survey said they have financially planned for their pets’ future care:

38% said they added the pet’s future caregiver as a beneficiary to a life insurance policy.

35% added more coverage to their life policies.

-13% recently purchased annuities naming the pet’s caregiver as the beneficiary.

Many pet owners consider their pets as members of their family and many go to great lengths to make their pets’ lives enjoyable as possible.  So, not surprisingly, many respondents stated that they would forgo other debt payments to ensure their dogs were taken care of properly.

Yet, most pet owners overlook end-of-life planning.  Setting up a trust for a pet or a donation money to a local  humane society or pet shelter are just a few of the options available.

A question many people consider before adding a new animal to the family is, “Can we afford it?” The price of an animal from a breeder can be high, into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. A more affordable option is often available at a local humane society or rescue shelter. Here in New York, you can get an animal that has been thoroughly evaluated, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated – all for about $140. Annual costs of food, veterinarian bills, etc. are equally important to consider before making a pet a part of your family. Sadly, pets are often returned to animal shelters because the pet owners were unable to afford things like veterinarian bills.

Finally, inquire about pet insurance the next time you visit your veterinarian. Many clinics offer reasonable plans and staff members will be able to speak with you about the appropriate option based on the type of pet, breed, age and other criteria. Typically, policies cost as little as $15 a month, which is a huge difference compared to a $1,000 emergency bill. The average policy cost closer to $45 per month.

Simple steps, like the aforementioned examples, will ensure your pets are cared for properly and affordably. If you need help or guidance in developing a care plan for your pets after you pass on, please contact us here at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein @(212) 693-3737.

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