We all know how important it is to make arrangements for the care of our children, the handling of our property, our finances, and our medical decisions in case we become disabled or die and can’t manage those things ourselves. The documents used to accomplish this are called “Advance Directives” and include a Will, Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. They allow us to make the decisions now, and with the help of a lawyer, put them in writing in a way that is legally valid so that our wishes can be honored even if we’re no longer able to express them. But what about making arrangements for our pets? Yes, you can create and Advance Directive for your pets.
You can put your pet in your will, but not as your heir or devisee because animals are defined as property under the law. You can, however, add provisions to your will for your pet’s care. A Pet Trust is an excellent way to provide for your domestic animals if you become disabled or after your death. In the trust document, you can choose a caretaker for your pet(s). You should check with them first though, to make sure they’re willing. You can also name a backup or two in case your first choice is unavailable for any reason. With an Advance Directive for your pets, you can also set aside money for the caretaker to use for feeding, grooming and continuing veterinary care for your pet(s).
It is important to include information about your pet’s habits, and personality as well as the name of your pet’s veterinarian and medical history, so the caretaker can step in without missing a beat. There is no set limit on the amount of money you can set aside in the Advance Directive for your pets, but it is recommended that it be reasonable so as not to be challenged by family members or invalidated by the court.
For more information, please contact Cynthia Alleman, Attorney at 828.253.6092 or visit her webiste at www.AshevilleLaw.us