With many seniors choosing an animal companion to share their golden years, there’s an uncomfortable reality that must be faced: what becomes of your pet should you pass away?
In much the same way as having a will is considered essential, this is a question well worth pondering. Clarifying appropriate arrangements means your dogs or cats aren’t left high and dry after you’re gone. Which in turn helps them and the broader community by reducing the impact on busy animal shelters.
Chief Operating Officer at pet insurance provider PD Insurance, Michelle Le Long says, “As we grow older, we tend to reflect on our mortality and anticipate the inevitable by taking care of assets, property and other belongings. With our pets being much-loved family members, looking out for their wellbeing is just as important. It’s a responsibility to them and to other family members left behind.”
Le Long says the approach to post-mortem custodianship of a treasured pet should be similar to what applies to minors: “Enlisting a pet godparent may sound quirky, but it helps safeguard their future.”
“Most parents have a contingency plan for their children because there’s comfort in a godmother and godfather being available and agreeable to providing shelter, food, love and care if they can’t.”
Ask yourself: Do you have a pet guardian?
Le Long suggests seniors consider bringing a guardian into the pet relationship from early on so pets build a bond with a familiar friendly face. This approach can prove invaluable even ahead of bereavement, particularly for those who are physically unable to exercise their pet sufficiently. Another caring human providing pet playtime or a walk a week, for example, enables elderly pet parents to enjoy their downtime with their fur kids, knowing they’ve had enough activity to be healthy and happy.
While this can create the necessary bond between pet and potential new parent, Le Long stresses that arrangements for pet adoption should be explicit, and never simply implied. After all, even those willing to spend time with your pet might not have the wherewithal to become a full-time owner.
“In other words, discuss ‘adoption’ with interested friends and family. If you want someone to be your pet’s next parent, confirm it with them and include provisions for your pet as an instruction in your will,” she says.
This is important because while pet parents consider their pooch or kitty part of the family, in the eyes of the law animals are property. In the event of death, immediate care will be necessary for the parent-less pet so make sure this is possible. Longer-term arrangements might include an endowment to cover inevitable expenses, including vet checkups and emergency attention the dog or cat might require, and funds for ongoing pet insurance cover to help mitigate excessive costs in the event of illness or surgery.
The bottom line, Le Long says, is nothing should be left to chance. “Death is inevitable, that’s why planning for it is part of our culture. Planning should cover every aspect of your pet’s care, too. Putting necessary measures in place means peace of mind knowing they’ll be provided for in your absence.”
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room
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