Last week, I covered some considerations in selecting a guardian for minor children. For some people, their “children” are of the furry variety, and those “fur babies” will need care when their beloved owners are deceased. Selecting a caregiver for a beloved pet can present its own challenges.
- What is the life span of your pet? Guardians for minor children typically have an expectancy that the child will be an adult, able to care for himself or herself, at age 18. Pets require care for their entire lifetime. Animals with exceptionally long lifespans (such as a tortoise) will require a much longer commitment than a gerbil or hamster. Consider the age of the potential caregiver and the likelihood he or she will be around to provide care when making your selection.
- What are the typical costs of care for your pet each year? Does your pet’s breed typically suffer from significant health issues? What type of vet care do you want provided to your pet? Veterinarian care can be expensive. Will requesting extensive care be a financial burden to your caregiver? If so, are you willing and able to leave funds to cover the anticipated costs of care?
- Does your potential caregiver have other pets? Introducing a new pet (or even a new type of pet) to a household with other pets can be stressful to your pet. Has your pet been around the caregiver’s pets to see if they get along?
- Does your potential caregiver have the time to devote to your pet to meet his or her needs? Does the caregiver frequently travel for work or work long shifts? If your pet thrives on routine or requires care at regular intervals, a caregiver who works extended shifts or erratic hours may not be able to provide a steady routine.
- If you are inclined to leave money in a trust, consider whether you are leaving a small amount or a significant sum. If your pet is likely to receive significant funds in trust (think Leona Helmsley’s dog, Trouble), then a trust may be the right solution to make sure that the funds are managed and utilized properly. If you are leaving a small amount to defray the anticipated expenses, and if you trust the caregiver to do the right thing for your pet, then an outright gift to the caregiver may be a more cost-effective solution.