The Power Of Pets Before, During And Post Pandemic
We humans are pet-lovers. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one pet in their homes. For some people, pets are their family. The latest statistics from back in 2017 reveal at that time there were 89.9 million dogs owned in the U.S. Whenever those numbers are recalculated, post pandemic, I’m sure they will be much higher since pets are now more popular than ever.
Today, pet shelters are experiencing shortages because so many people have adopted pets during the pandemic.
Especially in the Pandemic, Pets Provide Warmth Of Contact And Companionship
No one could have foreseen the isolation and loneliness we would all be facing in the midst of this unexpected pandemic. Fortunately, we are resilient and resourceful and can endure more than we know.
We may not be able to see and hug our family members who don’t live under the same roof with us. But we can always hug and hold our dogs and cats. We can hug our horses and hens, our hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits.
For anyone who lives alone and cannot get together with friends and family during COVID-19, pets are particularly important. This is particularly true for seniors who tend to be more at risk from social distance and loneliness. For these seniors and COVID-19, pets offer companionship, warmth and relief from the isolation that cannot be taken care of with a virtual visit.
Seniors, COVID-19, and Planning For Pets In Your Will
In light of how much your pet offers you in love and companionship, especially during this pandemic and the challenging time it creates, what would happen if you were to become ill and unable to care for your pet? What would happen to your beloved pet(s) if you were to die before they did? Now is a great time to consider setting up a pet trust in the event your pet outlives you.
Pets are legally considered personal property and, like other valuables you distribute upon your death, their care must be considered. Most people will want to make sure their beloved pets will be cared for in every way. It’s important to ask someone you know who loves your pet to be their caretaker if something were to happen to you and to make it legal. We all know verbal agreements are tenuous at best.
There are several legal ways seniors can provide for a pet
A living trust is a popular choice for seniors to make care plans for pets in this pandemic (or any time). It can be accessed immediately and is private (without probate court delays). It can be used if you become ill or incapacitated. You set aside money for care, and a named trustee has control. A trust is more flexible than a will, which takes effect only at death and can be a slow process.
A pet trust may be included in a living trust, or as a stand-alone trust. The named trustee is given funds and guidelines/mandates as to how to administer funds for your pet and how to distribute any remaining funds when your pet dies. A pet trust is now valid in all states.
i Power of attorney is used in the event of physical or mental incapacity, with provisions outlined for expenses, but terminates when the owner dies, unlike a trust or will. A Power of Attorney can be as broad or as narrow as you desire, so you could grant a power of attorney that has power only over specific funds for the maintenance and support of specific animals, without giving them a broad power over other assets. Also, you can appoint more than one person to hold the power, but since the power does not go into effect until you actually give the physical paper to the person, and can be revoked at any time, you can appoint one person and remove them and replace them with another, if you should so choose.
We Can Help Seniors Make Plans for Pets in this Pandemic
We have been setting up pet trusts and other legal instruments for the care of our senior client’s pets for many years. If you would like to discuss setting up a pet trust, give us a call. Despite the safety precautions we take during this pandemic, there are no guarantees as to who will or won’t get the virus and who will or won’t succumb to it. Now is a good time to plan for the care of your pets.