MAAP–Navigating the Journey Your Pet Will Take if You Can not Care for It
By Debra A. Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq. Mediator
Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC.
When you share your life with an animal companion, planning for your loved ones’ short-term and long-term care is imperative. They are counting on you to ensure their care no matter what. The older your pet is, the more they need a plan for future care.
Most people believe setting up directives in their will for the future care of their pet is enough.
But, what happens to your pet if the will is inoperative because you are not dead, or there is a delay in accessing your directives, or funds are in probate for six months to a year? What if the need to care for your pet is due to disaster, disability, disease, delay, or divorce? In these scenarios are you prepared? Have you answered key questions? By following four steps, you will gain peace of mind for the future care of your beloved companion.
The following tips will create a future pet care plan that your pets can live with.
Start with drawing a MAAP.
M ake a plan outlining the care that you would like to have your pets receive.
A ddress each of your pets and their unique needs.
A ppoint at least three caregivers; only one can be a family member.
P ublish your plans and keep them readily available.
Make a plan outlining the kind of care that you would like your pet to receive. This directive assumes that you are permanently or temporarily incapable of personally providing the care your pet needs to receive. Your pet caregiver will be grateful that you provided this unique and individualized information.
Addressing your pet’s individual uniqueness. List their identifying characteristics, including color, sex, age, and microchip number if applicable. This information will be invaluable to those left to care for your beloved companions. This outline should talk about their eating habits and personality traits. By creating this document, you enable the person caring for your pet to know its common behavior. This would allow another to step into your shoes.
Appoint three pet caregivers to take over the current needs of your pet if life circumstances occur, that limit your ability to care for them. Appointing three caregivers in succession helps hedge your bet. Only one family member can be appointed as a caregiver. This is very important.
If you cannot care for your pets, chances are that you are in need of assistance with your own care. Your family will be providing it. Enabling them to have someone else look after your pets will be a welcome relief.
Check in often to confirm with the people you have appointed to care for your pets that they still can. People may agree to care for your dog or cat when circumstances permit such care. However, things change, and when called upon to take your pet, they may not be able to follow through. You need to know that before it occurs.
Publish the plans that you make. Publishing your plan, your pet information, and the names of the three people whom you appointed to care for your pet helps those who have assumed the responsibility of caring for your pets know the who, what, and where of your pet care plan. Make sure that everyone in your life knows where this pet directive is, so they can easily access this important information upon your death, disability, disaster, disease, delay, or divorce.
Did you know that sometimes it can take up to six months and often 12 months, to probate a Will? What happens to your pet in the meantime?
Your Will does not protect your animals until it is read. Yet your pet needs those around you to know immediately how you want them cared for, who is available to help provide that care, and how they will get reimbursed for their generosity. You may consider setting aside funds to pay for this care. Setting money aside in a pet trust or annuity can be a lifesaver for your pet when it comes to their future care. Ask your financial advisor or estate planner questions as to how to provide funding to a pet trust or from an annuity.
This MAAP for your pet’s future care should be created before something happens to you. It is not just about end-of-life dispersal of your pet. If you trip, fall, and injure yourself, who will take care of you and your companion while you heal? You are still alive, yet you cannot care for your pet, and it needs care immediately. Having a MAAP to follow, taking these life-saving steps now, will ensure that your pet is well cared for in the event you cannot provide that care yourself.
Be sure to visit our website for more information about creating a MAAP for your pets and to register for our next online pet care planning webinar. (It’s free to join us, and you’ll get some additional gifts to help you protect your pet even more!)
Debra A. Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq., Mediator
Hamilton Law and Mediation
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