Beyond Pet Trusts — The Rise of Pet Hospice Care

In recent decades, “pet trusts” have grown in popularity as a way for residents to include their beloved animal companions in their estate plans. Our estate planning attorneys work with residents in this regard, setting aside appropriate assets to ensure pet dogs, cats, and other animals have funds available to pay for their well-being for the remainder of their lives. Considering that many New Yorkers consider their pets in similar terms as children, it is only natural to provide for them in Will and trust documents.

But there is now a move to take long-term animal planning to another level with the growth of pet hospice services.

Helping your Dog Pass on Gracefully
As New York Times story discussed recently, more and more veterinarian offices are providing end-of-life care for animals that are being deemed ‘pet hospice. The goal is to help families find a gentle way to provide a comfortable, less stressful passing for their pets. As with human hospice, the idea is to ease up on aggressive medical treatment and provide at-home support for ailing animals.

The NYT story notes that, “A big part of the job [is] relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet’s death, and letting them grieve at home — rather than in a clinic or animal shelter.”

The services include the use of pain and anti-anxiety medication for the pet. Unlike human hospice, euthanasia is then an option at the home. Instead of going to the institutional setting for the services, the euthanasia can be performed in the dog’s own home–usually at about a 25% premium over typical costs for the service. Altogether the typical pet hospice service costs around $250, though the prices may rise in costlier locations, like New York.

This service has a large nationwide network, with a 200-member strong group known as the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care. The group is made up of veterinarians, therapists, and even lawyers. Observers report that more and more veterinary schools are coming to teach the process.

That is not to say that there is not some disagreement within the community. Just as with human hospice, advocates disagree on when and how to decide the right time to “let go.” For example, some argue that euthanasia should never be an option and that palliative care should be provided until the animal dies naturally.

For helping understanding how to create an estate plan that incorporates all your loved ones–including pets–feel free to contact our attorneys today.

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