Americans spent over $53 billion on their pets in 2012, according to data from the American Pet Products Association. Whether you are a new pet owner or have owned pets all your life, this number might not come as much of a surprise to you. The fact is, having a pet in your life is something that many pet owners couldn’t do without.
But what happens to your animal as you age? What do you need to do to prepare for your pet as you make an estate plan? If you’ve thought about these questions, you want to speak to your estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. Owning a pet comes with benefits and drawbacks, especially as you get older. You need to be aware of the factors involved as you go about the process of creating an estate plan.
Pet Health and Insurance
Just like humans, animals get sick, injured, and require medical attention. Veterinary care can be expensive, especially if your pet suffers a significant illness or injury. If you are approaching retirement age, it’s important to consider how much this care will cost you, especially if you are planning on living on a fixed income.
Pet insurance can be part of this calculation. As with health insurance plans, a pet insurance policy will cover significant veterinary expenses should they arise in the future. You should always go over the details of the policy before you agree to purchase it, but these plans could be a good option for you if you want to make sure you are able to pay for your pet’s health care needs.
Providing directly for your pet is also something you might need to do as you create an estate plan. Pets can’t own property by themselves, and if you want to make sure your pet is properly cared for after you are gone, creating a pet trust could be the best way to go about doing that. Through a pet trust you can set aside some of your property to take care of the expenses associated with your animal, such as food and healthcare.
Living With Pets
You also want to consider the practical limitations, and benefits, of living with a pet as you age. There have been numerous studies that have showed that people who have pets experience benefits such as being less likely to feel depressed, have lower blood pressure, and lower heart rates than non-pet owners. However, pets can also be a health concern as you age because it’s very common for people to trip over their animals and suffer injuries resulting from such fall. If you’re getting older, you’ll want to consider what, if anything, you need to do to make living with your pet as safe as possible.