The 'conversation' got me thinking about our dogs and what arrangements we've made for their care. And of course, I realized we've done NOTHING about this issue. Let's face it, telling friends who should take which dog in the event of our demise is not really going to work. We don't have anything in writing in the form of a will or pet trust or anything remotely legal, no money set aside from the estate to handle routine and vet care expenses for the dogs, and no AKC paperwork or microchip info convenient enough that anyone could find it if they needed it for settling the estate.
So, now seems like as good a time as any to do some research and get the word out that we ALL need to do this for our dogs. Before we get to that topic, let's make sure that you've also done it for yourself. Right NOW is a good time to get that ball rolling, too. There was an article in the NYT about a woman in her 30's trying to support herself and her daughter and untangle her bicyclist husband's financial matters when he died suddenly while riding. She created a website called 'Get Your Sh_t Together' and has excellent information about why you need to do something about organizing your life documents NOW, not later. Check it out-there are checklists and free templates for wills, living wills, power of attorney, etc. You can even sign up for monthly nag reminders to keep you focused on doing something about your own estate planning.
Back to the topic of your dogs and making sure they are cared for-If you type the words estate planning pet owners into your favorite search browser, you'll get tons of articles, blogs, presentations and pdf files to research the topic. But, remember that laws vary from state to state, and that what one author says may not actually apply for your state or situation. The American Bar Association has an article about pet estate planning that is an excellent overview of the topic and a good place to start. But don't stop there-speak with your relatives and friends who are interested in assuring the safety and care of your pets, because you will certainly have to designate at least one person to be responsible for them. Get all your AKC paperwork in order and easily accessible, and make sure all your dogs are positively identified with microchips or tattoos and that their identifications are associated with their AKC paperwork.
So, go ahead-make that appointment with your family lawyer and make some decisions that will give you peace of mind and assure care for your pets. They give us unconditional love-we should do the same by making sure they will be cared for regardless of what life holds for us