As many of you may know, I have been writing articles and making presentations on California's new pet trust law, which became effective on January 1, 2009. The law allows pet owners to create enforceable trusts to provide for the care and well-being of their pet after their incapacity or death, and to fund that care with the appropriate assets necessary to meet the owner’s objectives.
However, it is important to remember that, regardless of whether a pet owners has the assets or inclination to create a trust for their pet, emergency instructions for the care of pets are incredibly important.
If you get into a car accident and have a person at home who is expecting you to return home, at some point that person is going to start getting worried and make some calls to figure out what happened, or law enforcement or emergency room personnel will call your home.
However, if you have a pet at home, your pet is not likely to either make or receive any telephone calls.
Thus, even if you have made provisions for the long-term care of your pet by a caregiver after your death, you should make plans for short-term care for your pet in case of an emergency. If your designated caregiver for your pet in the long term is located far from your home, you should find some friends or neighbors close by who could care for your animal in the short-term.
The next question becomes how to communicate such short term provisions to those who may be with you in the event of an emergency.
Many people who have advanced health care directives carry cards behind their driver’s licenses. These cards give the name of their agent, as well as their telephone number.
You should consider doing the same thing for your pets, so that if you are in an accident, emergency personnel may look in your wallet and see what is behind your driver’s license. If they see your pet care contact card, they are going to be able to make appropriate calls at that time.
If you would like a form of emergency card for your pets, contact our office.