When Your Pet Is Your Kid
Our first child’s name is Maverick. He is 105 pounds, very hairy, very anxious, and loves to run around after a ball. Even at age 9. “Mavpants”, as we call him, is our German Shepherd and he’s been such an important part of our lives since we adopted him from an adorable litter of puppies in 2010.
Before we had kids, Mav was it. He traveled with us everywhere, even to visit family in San Diego. That is, until we learned about how scary it is for big dogs to fly. I sold my beloved MINI Cooper and got a bigger car so Mav had more space. We cut a hole in the wall of our house so he could have a dog door. We took him to doggy day care (he was expelled for reasons that were, obviously, not his fault…it’s a long story). He made our house a home.
Mav has rolled with the punches through the birth of two kids, which, inevitably, shifted focus away from him. He’s remained stoic and supportive of us during his trials and tribulations and helped us know what true, unconditional love means. He’s our best bud.
Pets are the best. They’re like kids to most of us.
That’s why it’s so important to plan for them as part of your estate. Usually, sadly, we outlive our pets. But if we don’t, we have to make sure we include them in your plans for what happens to them – where will they go? Pets in an estate are some of the hardest cases for me because it is often difficult to find someone to take a pet after someone has died. In one case I worked on, there were over 20 animals that we had to rehome. It was devastating, separating the animals from each other and trying to figure out where they should land. (Not to mention, it was super expensive to get it done.)
Pets in Washington State are considered personal property, which means they can be given away in a Will or in a list incorporated by your Will, upon your death. I always ask my clients about their pets and they look at me, confused, and then say “ohhhh yeah! I never thought about that!”
We know right where Mavpants would go when we die; it’s outlined in our Will. We are also giving the lucky beneficiary (I’ll keep it confidential for now) some money to care for Mav as he gets older. Eventually, this will need to be updated, but for now, I am happy to know that Maverick will have a loving home and some money to get him Snausages (don’t judge, he loves those nasty little treats).