Preparing for the “Unthinkable”

 It’s hard to imagine that our pets might outlive us.  Worse yet is imagining our beloved pets, unsettled by the loss of their favorite human, having to adapt to a new situation, perhaps without the affection, and attention we would want for them.  As hard as this “unthinkable” situation may be to consider, I encourage you to prepare for it in a way that protects your precious four-legged family members. 

Just as you are obliged to create the paperwork that makes it undeniably clear who will inherit your possessions and assume guardianship of your children, spend some time determining who will take care of your pets.  Here are some tips for getting started: 

-Select the person you want to assume guardianship and confirm their willingness to take on this responsibility.  I encourage you to be specific about your wishes regarding the quality of care for your pet and your philosophy about medical treatment and euthanasia. 

-Prepare all of the official paperwork just as you would for any other advanced directives.  

-Set up a trust fund to care for your pet’s future needs.  Providing for the guardian will allow the guardian to provide for your pets. 

I recently happened upon a wonderful website (www.pettrustlawblog.com) that will help you with all legal matters pertaining to pets, including trusts and guardianship.  Attorney Danny Meek presents material that is thoughtful, comprehensive, and easy to understand.  (This says a lot, as I’m rarely able to comprehend attorney-speak.)  It’s also clear that this guy really loves animals.  I encourage you to pay Mr. Meek a visit. 

As my Grandma Goldie used to tell me, “People plan, and God laughs.”  My husband and I have made plans for our animals, should the “unthinkable” happen.  How about you?

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

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Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

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