Your pets are an integral part of your estate plan, much like children and loved ones—and sometimes even more so. You will want to consider the care of your pets at two distinct events: (1) your incapacity and (2) your death.
Because incapacity may be limited in time (e.g. hopefully you will regain your capacity), the pet caretaker’s role will also be limited. You will want to consider providing for your pet if you are incapacitated in a Durable Power of Attorney (“DPA”) and/or your living trust. Not everyone has a living trust but everyone should have a DPA. This blog post will be limited to discussing the DPA.
Unfortunately, our California Probate Code does not provide default language specific for our pets nor does the Uniform Statutory Power of Attorney (Probate Code Sec 4400) provide pet-friendly language. So you will want to customize your DPA to protect your pet.
You will want to name a pet caregiver in your DPA and a back-up caregiver if your first choice is unable or unavailable to care for your pet.
Then, you may want to consider giving your Agent in your DPA the power to pay your pet caregiver for your pet’s veterinary costs, food, grooming and other reasonable expenses. You can put a dollar limit on this or leave this to the discretion of your DPA Agent.