Alex was a fourth-grader when Buddy entered our lives. He slid in and made himself right at home. Alex was ecstatic. It was the best birthday gift ever. Fast forward 15 years and Buddy is still with us. He is a red-eared slider aquatic turtle. What we didn't know 15 years ago as we were hunting around the local Petco buying tanks and plants and turtle food and filters was that red ear slider aquatic turtles can live up to 70 years. What we thought of as a cute birthday gift for our middle son has turned into a lifelong commitment. Who would have known? Not us because we hadn't done the proper research.
So many of us don’t think about our pets as we work on our end-of-life planning. Or worse yet, we don’t do end-of-life planning and our pets are left to fate and a kind heart to take them in. How much better would it be for them if arrangements were made well before your final day arrives? Unfortunately, many pets are euthanized each year because we just don't think about what will happen to them after we die. Is this what you would want to happen to your beloved companion? My guess is no! Even if you are a young pet owner it’s a good idea to think about what would happen to your beloved pet if something would happen to you. Young people die each day and many pets are left behind because we never think this will happen to us.
Many estate planning attorneys now offer Pet trusts as part of estate planning. You can write into your will who will inherit your furry companion, or in Buddy’s case, scaly companion. And you can set up monetary accounts either through a trust or through a pet account at your local bank or credit union to care for their needs until the end of their life. That way you don't put a financial burden on anyone. Because let's face it, pets can be expensive especially in their later years of life. So with a little proactive work on your end, you can set them up for a life of love and care. Make sure you talk to family members to see if anything happened to you they would be willing to take your pet. This isn't something you want to spring on people after you're gone. Many pets are euthanized because the person you left them to just couldn't handle being a pet owner. So choose wisely, ask them if they're willing to take this responsibility on, and then set up a pet trust to care for them.
Alex is now 25 years old. We're uncertain of Buddy's age but one thing we are certain about
is he's going to live a long long time. Alex has a plan, and he's written it into his will: a plan for Buddy so he is well cared for for the next 50 years, at least.