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Caring for Your Pet in Your Absence

Jul 27, 2017 3 min read Pam Holland-Moritz

The recent storms that wreaked havoc on parts of the country ignited discussions between myself and my family about what would happen if we were forced to evacuate our home.  We thought about my 12-year-old Maine Coon cat in that discussion.  To me, she is a member of my family. I feel I have a responsibility to protect her from any harm.   

Preparing for pet care if you can’t be present

Years earlier, in an effort to proactively find ways to take care of my cat and dog in case we were separated, I went as far as adding a codicil to my will.  A codicil is a supplemental document that explains, modifies, or revokes a portion of an entire will.  This measure guarantees that I would be providing for the continued well-being of my pets.  It gives me great peace of mind to know that if I pass away, both my dog and cat will have excellent care and a good home for the rest of their lives.

But, as I sat on my couch with my cat comfortably curled in my lap, I started to wonder what would happen if I got sick or hurt and couldn’t take care of her? A little planning can go a long way.  It’s important to take a proactive approach and plan for such a contingency.

Measures to consider

The following is a list of some of the contingency measures I have put in place so that my pets are protected for the entirety of their lives should we get separated or I get disabled:

  • Lined up a core group of short and long-term caregivers    
  • Provided detailed instructions on my pets’ feeding and care 
  • Ensured that I have the finances to care for them 
  • Obtained disability insurance in case I am not able to work 

And, while I secretly think my cat couldn’t care less as long as there’s food in her dish and clean accommodations, it gives me great solace to know that she will thrive if I become incapacitated.

Resources to consider

There are valuable tips on the Internet that instruct you on how to protect your pets in case some unforeseen event were to separate you from them.  Sites such as petfinder.com offer some helpful information. That particular site taught me about the benefits of including my pets in my will or trust.  I discovered that my pet would be immediately taken care of in case I were to suddenly pass away, become ill or be incapacitated.1

If you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself, you could also speak with an estate attorney.  Find one who cares about animals and understands how much you wish to leave your pet in good hands during your absence.  An attorney can help you add a codicil to your will that includes the long-term care of your pet.  An attorney can also help you create a trust that makes your wishes enforceable by law in the state you reside in. 

Another resource to consider is consumeraffairs.com.  They can help you choose which disability insurance works best for you should you become disabled.  That way, you can still give your pets all the love you want and be able to afford it.2

I would add that it is also important that you provide copies of your will, trust, or insurance policy to the executor of your estate and your pet’s designated caregiver so that he or she can look after your pet immediately. 

Bottom Line

I don’t want to even think about what would happen to my pets if I were to fail to put some plans in place that would take care of them if I were to get separated from them, become disabled or even pass away.  They could end up in a shelter, or with people that aren’t as caring as I would be.  Their unconditional love makes me feel I must protect them from any harm for as long as they live.

Pam Holland-Moritz has more than 20 years of writing/editing experience, covering publishing, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries.  She’s married with two sons, and parent to two fur babies. Also an avid collector of useless movie and television trivia.



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