The Golden Retriever Club of America National Rescue Committee
If Something Happens to you: Providing for your Golden
In this day and age, we need to prepare for eventualities that could impact the care of our beloved Goldens.
Suppose you were in an automobile accident en route home from shopping.
Suppose your sudden accident was fatal.
Have you made emergency or long-term provisions for the care of your Golden?
Your golden deserves your careful thought and planning.
There are both short-term and long-term provisions to be considered. The following is a "quality care checklist" of steps to be taken to care for those four-footed furry love bugs with which you share your home.
Short-term Emergency Care
1. Put a notice on your door alerting emergency personnel that you have dog(s) in the house so that firemen or other emergency personnel will be alerted to look for an animal cowering under the bed or somewhere else out of sight.
2. Put a Pet Alert Card in your wallet, adjacent to the "Emergency Information Card" in most wallets, alerting emergency personnel to the fact that you have dogs at home that need care.
3. Alert your executor to your pet provision concerns and include financial provisions in your will for temporary boarding of your pets. In the event of your demise, your family's primary concern will be your funeral arrangements, not pet care. You may also wish to make use of a Letter of Instruction or a trust (see below.) Make it easy for everyone by reviewing your wishes with those concerned and making the proper provisions.
4. In the event of your death leave specific instructions as to the ultimate care of your Golden.
5. Be specific about the placement of your golden. Leave nothing to chance.
6. Including your pet in your Power of Attorney may be advisable if you have designated someone to act in your behalf while you are still alive, but incapacitated. Provisions for pet care can be spelled out in a Power of Attorney statement. You may also draw up a separate Power of Attorney form for your chosen pet care provider. Copies of this form should be given to your pet care provider, your veterinarian, your boarding kennel and your executor.
7. Write out important information about your dog and instruct someone where this document may be found. A file folder should include medical records, licensing information, special food needs, etc. But perhaps even more important, write a personality profile of your pet - its likes and dislikes, its good and its bad habits, its favorite playtime activity, the fact that it loves to chew ice cubes! Give the new owner all the information possible to facilitate your pet's transition to a new home.
8. Euthanasia is usually not a legal option. You may think that your pet cannot survive without you or that you have no family or Rescue group to which your Golden can be left, but do not leave instructions that the dog is to be euthanized in the event of your death because most courts have invalidated such instructions. Deal with it! Make provisions! Don't leave your Golden's fate hanging in the air. There are always viable options. Be advised, however, that if you leave your Golden to a friend or relative, that person becomes the legal owner and that person has the right to euthanize your pet.
Including Your Pet in Your Will
Dogs have a different status in different states. If a dog is considered "property" in your state, you cannot leave money for its care nor can you establish a trust for its care. Property cannot inherit property. In many states, if you leave money to an individual or organization for the care of your pet, that money will be subject to inheritance taxes. Talk to your lawyer about your state laws before you write provisions for pet care into your will. Always specify that the cost of food, veterinary care, transportation or temporary boarding care for your pet, while permanent arrangements are being made, will be taken from your estate funds.
1. Providing funds for pet care through cash or a trust must be done in accordance with state law. Most states do not permit any part of an estate to be left directly to an animal. Money can be left to a caretaker for your pet's care, but the care taker is under no legal obligation to use the money for that purpose. If a large amount of money is left to someone for this purpose, others may challenge the will unless an in terrorem clause is included in the will. Such a clause insures that if someone unsuccessfully challenges the will, said person cannot then receive property under any provision of the will.
2. Pet Trusts or Honorary Trusts can be another vehicle of care, however, they are expensive to administer.
In May, 2001 an effort was made by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) to create federal legislation (HR 1796) that would permit pets to be named as income recipients of charitable remainder trusts. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, however, as of March, 2005, no action had been taken on this bill.
Designating a Rescue Organization to Care for Your Golden
1. A Rescue Organization can provide the best care for your Golden if you do not have a close relative or family member who truly cares for your dog.
2. You should provide a bequest in your will if you elect to specify that your Golden go to a Rescue organization.
Your dog has given you its full trust and unconditional love. You must reward that faith by taking the necessary steps to provide for its well-being should you be unable to do so.