Pets and your financial plan. Golden Retrievers and other pets can cost more than a bar of gold.
A survey of pet owners, conducted by Securian Financial Group, revealed that nearly half (44%) of pet owners have prepared for the future care of their animals should their pets outlive them. Utilizing traditional financial planning instruments such as living trusts, life insurance and annuities, pet parents are able to have peace of mind knowing that their pets’ needs will be met.
Generally, these Pet Estate Plans consist of more than who will care for the pet when you are no longer able. Expenses such as food, doggie day care, veterinarian bills / medication and needed home repairs, because of the pet, should also be considered. Those expenses can result in substantial costs over time. While my two dogs may weigh a total of 11 pounds, it’s amazing how much food they can eat and damage they can cause.
Additionally, One-in-five of all respondents in the survey said they have financially planned for their pets’ future care.
-38% said they added the pet’s future caregiver as a beneficiary to a life insurance policy.
-35% added more coverage to their life policies.
-13% recently purchased annuities naming the pet’s caregiver as the beneficiary.
I consider my pets as members of my family, and I bet most of you feel the same way about yours. I also know that many of my clients go to great lengths to make their pets’ lives fabulous and enjoyable. I’m not going to lie, I have met some dogs that would qualify as pretentious (i.e. they only eat Filet Mignon). Perhaps not surprisingly, many respondents stated that they would forgo other debt payments to ensure their dogs were taken care of properly.
Here are a few financial planning tips/topics if you are considering a new pet or looking to ensure yours is cared for should you predecease it.
Planning for the End of Life
Most pet owners overlook end-of-life planning. Yes, we often consider a guardian and a trust in relation to our children, but making similar plans for your pets is just as important. Think about an individual trust for your pet or leave money to your local humane society or pet shelter.
You may love your puppies, but will you prepared for the strain on your budget?
Affordability of a Pet
A question many consider before adding a new animal to the family is, “Can we afford it?” The price of an animal from a breeder can be high, into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. A more affordable option is often available at your local humane society. Here in Los Angeles, you can get an animal that has been thoroughly evaluated, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated – all for about $140. Annual costs of food, veterinarian bills, etc. are equally important to consider before making a pet a part of your family. Sadly, pets are often returned to animal shelters around the country because the pet parents were unable to afford things like veterinarian bills.
Should you grab pet insurance on your pets?
Finally, inquire about pet insurance the next time you visit your veterinarian. Many clinics offer reasonable plans and staff members will be able to speak with you about the appropriate option based on the type of pet, breed, age and other criteria. Typically, policies cost as little as $16 a month, which is a huge difference compared to a $1,000 emergency bill. I’ve heard the average policy cost closer to $45 per month.
Simple steps, like the aforementioned examples, will ensure your pets are cared for properly and affordably.