Many of my clients and friends consider pets to be an important part of their family and would feel terrible if their "furry-coated children" were left stranded, abandoned – all because we didn't make any plans for them in case some disaster or sudden death strikes.
Luckily, it’s not difficult to find the right way to include these furry-coated animal family members in your life and estate plan. Without a plan, your loyal companions could end up in a shelter, where they would be euthanized or donated to research labs if they are not adopted.
Here are some simple steps that can make a huge difference for the pets you love.
You should designate someone who likes animals (and in particular your animal) to be the caretaker. In the document this caretaker would be described as the trustee for the pet. Usually it is someone who wants to care for your pets and understands their needs.
Make sure you name at least one backup choice in case the first choice becomes unable to serve. Your pet trustee will often not be the same persons who will inherit your assets or handle the estate administration.
Build in some financial assistance for the job. On average a dog costs a bit more per year that a cat ($1,400 compared to about $1,000). Horses cost much more and are also much more difficult to place.
Since horses are not easy to place, if you are a horse owner you may need to investigate organizations that can help with this task. You could also decide to name someone you know to have the task of finding a home for even thought that person is not the one providing the home.
For more protection and certainty, you can fund a formal special pet trust. The trustee doesn't have to be the person responsible for care. You can name the person designated to care for the pet (or for finding a home for the pet), specify your wishes and designate a Trustee to manage the money in the trust pay for the animal's care.
You should include instructions on how the funds are to be used (food, veterinary care, pet sitters, grooming, etc.) as well as plans for interim care until long-term placement is completed.
A memorandum or letter to the caregiver can add helpful information and instructions for the pet. This should include a complete medical record, feeding instructions, a list of favorite toys, and names of friends–both human and animal.
What happens if the pet owner becomes incapacitated or required nursing home care? Eden Alternative (edenalt.org) is a nonprofit that promotes the right of residents to have pets in institutional settings. Their website lists pet-friendly facilities around the country.
What if there is a natural or other disaster? The Humane Society’s website provides an excellent pamphlet and checklist that pet owners can use for disaster preparedness.
One more excellent resource is a book written by one of my colleagues, Peggy Hoyt, called "All My Children Wear Fur Coats" which can be found on Amazon.com
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year for family gatherings and the embodiment of the spirit of giving. Unfortunately, many of us have a concept of the "perfect" holiday family gathering, and we strive for this, although it rarely happens just as we envision.
For caregivers, this concept of holiday perfection can add more stress to the already stressful "job" of these ultimate "givers."
Here are some steps for caregivers to avoid feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed, or resentful when watching other families that appear to be having a "perfect" holiday.
The first step to take is to remember that you are not alone. A recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP indicates that 44.4 million Americans ages 18 years or older are providing unpaid care to an adult. Many of these caregivers have multiple roles, such as marriage, children, and work outside the home in addition to the caregiving role.
The typical caregiver in this study is a 46-year-old baby boomer woman with some college education, who works outside the home, and spends more than 20 hours a week caring for an adult, usually a mother. The average length of caregiving is 4.3 years.
Another step is to find help. The author suggests utilizing resources such as family members, friends, religious groups, agencies, or homecare providers. The local Department of Aging may be able to provide some assistance or a list of local resources. Non-medical home care agencies can provide help with the physical care of a loved one.
Family members are often willing to help, but are not sure what to do. Caregivers may present the image that they are only one who can give the best care. However, it is important to accept help that is offered (even if you need to ask for it initially), and to provide details on the type of help you need, and to be specific as to what they can and should do.
Even though people usually think of financial planning as being for older adults who already have built up considerable savings, there are some great reasons why a visit with a financial planner is important for young adults. They might not have much yet in a savings account there are some important ways that getting financial advice will help them get a good start.
The first benefit is learning how to budget. This may be the most important lesson of all for a young adult who will be living on their own and paying their own bills for the first time. For many college students, it will be tempting to use the new credit cards they’ve received in the mail, without really tracking their expenses. One of the basic steps in developing money skills is to know where your money is going.
Another important skill is learning how to plan for and save for special purchases like buying a car and traveling. Learning about interest rates and how they work, whether they are for credit cards, auto loans, student loan or other borrowing will be very helpful.
Getting help in starting contributions to an IRA or other retirement plan will go a long way to getting off to a good start. In fact, contributing in your twenties to Roth IRA is one of the smartest decisions you can make Thanks to compound interest and tax-deferred growth, contributing as little as $2, 000 a year for three years, to a Roth IRA could grow to $642,000 in 50 years!
This is a post I wrote a while ago. Every now and then I share it and it always produces some good laughs!
Pets play a big role in many people's lives. This post shares a bit of humor about the difference between dogs and cats – mostly attitudinal differences. If you've ever lived with a cat or a dog – or both at the same time- I guarantee that you'll definitely enjoy this.
What Our Pets Write In Their Diaries
Excerpts from a Dog’s Diary……
8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM – Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
Excerpts from a Cat’s Daily Diary. ..
Day 983 of my captivity…
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am. I hate it!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ‘allergies.’ I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow—but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…………….
If you haven’t heard about Oseola McCarty’s legacy you’re in for a special treat.
Osceola McCarty worked for most of her lifetime of 87 years as a laundress. She had quit school in the sixth grade to go to work, never married and had no children.
She didn’t earn too much but she lived very frugally in her old family home, cutting the toes out of shoes if they did not fit right and binding her ragged Bible with Scotch tape to keep Corinthians from falling out. Over the decades, her savings grew to more than $150,000.
She never had much schooling but greatly valued the power of education. And so she decided to contribute her life’s savings to finance scholarships for black students at the University of Southern Mississippi in her hometown.
"I wanted to share my wealth with the children," said Osceola McCarty, whose only real regret is that she never went back to school. "I never minded work, but I was always so busy, busy. Maybe I can make it so the children don't have to work like I did."
People in Hattiesburg call her donation “the Gift”. The amazing part of this story is that her donation inspired many other to contribute to the scholarship fund and today Business leaders in Hattiesburg, matched her $150,000 and before her death in 1999, the fund had grown to $300,000. It is still managed by the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, which administers donations to the school.
After the story of McCarty's $150,000 gift to Southern Miss became widely known, her life changed dramatically. From a world she had measured in city blocks for most her life, she traveled throughout the country to receive honors and do media interviews.
Miss McCarty's money and the matching sum — will finance scholarships into the indefinite future. The only stipulation is that the beneficiaries be black and live in southern Mississippi. At the time of her death, 9 scholarships had already been awarded.
Her life, her thrift and her generosity have inspired millions.