COVID has taken many human lives, and unfortunately so many of those people left pets without someone to care for them. A recent news story reported on 4 dogs left homeless when their owners both died of COVID. This situation can be easily fixed by making plans for someone to care for your pets if you become incapacitated or die. You can:
1: Have a pet trust prepared. You would name a caregiver to physically care for your pets, and you would name a trustee to see that your caregiver receives what is needed to care for your pet. Ohio permits pet trusts; check with an attorney in your state to see if your state law provides for pet trusts.
2: Have a last will and testament prepared. You would include a provision in your will designating someone to take ownership of your pets, and likely leave them a sum of money to help with food, vet bills, etc. Some problems that could occur when having a will only, is if your estate gets caught up in probate, ownership of your pets and money left for their care might get caught up in probate too. Also, one reason trusts are more common is that there is no oversight in wills to ensure that money left will go towards your pet, or that once money is received, your pet is not then given away.
3. Regardless of you having a will or trust, I highly recommend having an emergency pet care power of attorney prepared. With this power of attorney, you designate people who are given authority to enter your residence to feed and care for your pets if you are incapacitated or in the hospital, or remove your pets to care for them temporarily if you are unable to do so. One instance involved the agent taking possession of the pets until a family member of their owner, who had died, could get into town. The power of attorney could be used to authorize a landlord to enter your apartment, or the police to enter your house if necessary.
If you have any questions regarding estate planning for your pets, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional reading, see my pet estate planning blog posts here.