There are several ways to make arrangements for the care of your cherished companion. Some are more formalized than others. A pet owner cannot just leave money to a pet, as animals are considered property. The more specifically things are outlined, the better chance that your wishes will be followed.
The most important thing that you need to do is to identify a person that is willing to provide the care. This person agrees to house and care for your cherished companions. It is best to also have an alternate as well. Spend time talking with both of these people. Make sure the level of care that you wish for your cherished companions is clearly outlined, and that both of these people truly agree with undertaking this level of responsibility. If you do not designate someone, then whoever inherets your assets, will also inherit your pets. You also want to inform your family members of your wishes early on, and make sure they have needed contact information for your chosen pet provider.
The more that you decide now, and the more it is legally formalized, the less chance for issues in the future. Both the designated and alternate caretakers can be listed in your will or living trust. You can leave money to either of them, or to another individual to oversee things. In California, you can establish a pet trust, which allows you to be very specific about the care for your companion. Once your pet has passed on, the remainder of the funds goes to a designated person or organization. You can also establish a contract with a veterinarian; but this is not commonly done.
A pet care plan can be established in a few different ways. An estate planner is the best option because it can help to streamline things, and make sure all of your concerns are addressed. There are several Stockton lawyers that handle estates. Here are a few who are personal contacts of mine, and who are willing to help you with your pet trust needs: Shari Allen-Garibaldi at 466-6735, Patrick Curry at 473-0394, and Judy Anne Lovett at 472-3711. According to Patrick Curry, "setting up a pet trust is easy to do. It is best to do this with an estate planner because the plan can be tailored to the pet owner's specific wants and needs." It is also possible to create these documents on your own with programs like Nolo at www.nolo.com. There are also programs like Pet Guardian, that have established care packages. See www.Petguardian.com. Keep in mind with these other options, you are doing most of the work, and they are much less customized.
If you are not able to find someone to care for your pets, there are rescue groups that can care for them or help to find homes for them. The San Francisco SPCA will do this for its members, and provide free lifetime veterinary care for them at their hospital. Other organizations may do this as well. Often these groups want a significant donation, $10,000 or more.
Your pets are part of your family. By planning for their future now, you will have peace of mind throughout life changes, or when the unexpected occurs.