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10% of all people between the ages of 50 and 80 got a new pet between March of 2020 and January 2021, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging. However, for those who live alone or who may experience a health condition (or who simply want to be prepared), having a plan in place is essential for the care of your pet should an unforeseen event occur. Whether you’re a long term pet sitter for an older adult, you have a loved one who has a pet, or you simply wish to be prepared for your own future, here’s what you should know in the event that the unexpected occurs.

How Having a Plan in Place Can Help

In the event that a loved one or pet owner passes unexpectedly, there are ways in which a well thought out plan can ensure the pet’s future care. notes that the simplest way to do this is by leaving the pet (and enough money for its care) to a trusted individual via a provision in a will or living trust — though there are other options. A pet trust, for instance, involves creating a legal obligation to care for the pet, in which the pet, instructions, and money is left to a trusted individual — in the event that the owner passes, the chosen individual then receives the pet and money, which is only to be used for the pet’s care.

The Importance of An Open And Honest Conversation

Slightly less than half of U.S. adults, or 46%, have a will that describes how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death, according to one Gallup polling. For those who wish to have a plan in place that includes the future of Fido’s care, having an open and honest conversation with the individuals you’re considering for the position is imperative in choosing the right person for the job. As such, this involves being transparent regarding the pet’s needs, and ensuring that those needs are realistically able to be met.

While simply appointing a person to care for your pet may sound easier, having a conversation with them beforehand will give you insight as to whether or not they’re willing and able to do so. To make things less complicated, organizing a date to talk about the will (including the pet’s care) can be more efficient, and will let loved ones know what responsibilities they might expect upfront. For instance, while an estate executor of the deceased manages taxes, they’re also in charge of noting down and following through with the estate and property related wishes of the deceased as well. While a professional executor takes care of a lot, discussing the responsibilities of your loved ones — such as filing your taxes, and taking care of Fido is a must. By discussing everything all at once, you can ensure everyone is up to speed and have peace of mind should anything occur.

When No Plan was Made

Sadly, between five and seven million pets enter animal shelters every year due to the death of their owners, and approximately three to four million of these are euthanized when a proper home cannot be found for them, according to National Cremation. That said, should you find yourself in a situation where your loved one doesn’t have a plan for their pet — and you’re unable to care for the pet yourself — it’s important to know that there are a few options. Reaching out to close family is a great starting point, though if nobody is able to care for the pet, then reaching out to an adoption organization or shelter can present a last-resort option. While some shelters are meant for such a situation and aid in helping find the pet a loving home, it’s imperative that you do your research beforehand, which will help greatly in avoiding those that use euthanasia.

Navigating a loved one’s death is already an overwhelming and stressful experience, and things can be even more so should a much loved pet be left behind. With that in mind, there are several ways that a pet owner can be prepared for the unexpected — such as having an open conversation with family, and implementing solutions such as a pet trust.

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