I remember when Alan came by the office to talk about his planning. His wife had passed away and it was now just Alan and the six cats. No kids. No close relatives. Alan came by the office several times to talk about his will, but he never got around to actually doing it. We had some great ideas. His cats would be cared for until they went to cat heaven and then the remaining assets would start a fund to help low income seniors pay for pet food and vet bills so that they could have a pet too. “Pets are really good for lonely seniors,” Alan would say. Yes, Alan was all ready to get going, just as soon as he got around to it. I still remember that call. It was on a Monday afternoon. The lawyer asked for Mr. Pittman (I’m Bob to anyone who knows me). He wanted to know if I knew Alan. He said that he had found all kinds of notes about planning and a will when they discovered Alan dead. My card was on Alan’s nightstand. The lawyer on the other end of the line had been hired by the distant relatives to take care of Alan’s estate, clean up and sell the house, and get rid of the cats who were still alive. “Did Mr. Jones (no, not his real name) have a will” asked the lawyer? My answer was no, he never got around to it. I still get annoyed at Alan. I still wonder what I could have done to make him take action. I have discovered that I can’t “make” anyone do anything. Don’t be an Alan.
If you have pets, you need to make sure that they will be ok if you are ever in an accident or when you die. I can’t tell you how many clients care for their pets as much (if not more) than their kids. So, what happens if you are in an accident and your dog, cat, bird or other friend is waiting at home, depending on you for food, water, and the trip outside? Do you carry a Pet Alert Card™ or some other id card that tells someone who to call? Have you made provision in your power of attorney for the care of your pet? Who will take your friends when you die? It is really not difficult to provide properly for our pets and animal friends, but most people don’t take care of something so important.
There is a great book on the topic of estate planning for pets, All My Children Wear Fur Coats, by Peggy Hoyt. You’ll like it.