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Putting pets in your financial plan

You’ve worked hard to provide for your family: to plan for your retirement, to budget for the every day and the special days, and to provide for your children’s education. But have you considered all members of your family in your financial plan...including the furry, feathered or four-legged loved ones?

Fido, Polly and Whiskers need the protection of a solid financial plan too. From the day-to-day expenses that come with pet ownership, to planning ahead for the unexpected, and finally, protecting them should something happen to you – here’s what you need to consider when building your pets into your financial plan.

The day-to-day...

Every financial plan begins with a strong foundation of cash flow management. This means ensuring your monthly expenses – including pet needs – do not exceed monthly income. Some humane societies peg the annual cost of owning a dog or parrot in the thousands of dollars. Smaller animals can cost less, but still require a lifestyle change. Before embarking on the path to pet ownership, examine your budget to see if you can comfortably afford to care for a pet. By incorporating pet food, cat litter, grooming appointments and entertainment into your long-term budget, you will stay on track during your next trip to the pet store when Rex has chewed through yet another toy.

...and the rainy day

It’s a responsible and increasingly more commonplace decision to set up an emergency fund dedicated solely to caring for pets. Animal lovers know that pets can lead to large and unexpected bills, especially as the pets age. Planning ahead for emergencies, medications, palliative care and even funeral expenses can give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to provide them with a comfortable life. It will also ensure that you don’t have to draw from the hard-earned investments earmarked for other needs.

Your pet’s future without you

What if something happens to you, and through either disability or death, you are no longer able to care for your pets?

It used to be unknown territory, but increasingly across North America, financial planners are approached to set up a trust for pets, or to designate a pet as the legitimate inheritor of household wealth and assets in the will.

In Canada, we aren’t quite there yet, as there are still opposing views on the legitimacy of setting up a trust for pets. Instead, the common practice is to leave assets to a trusted individual on the condition that they agree to become the pet’s new guardian.

Alternatively, you could speak to your local humane society or pet shelters to see if they have mechanisms for finding pets a new home. Propose leaving a donation that would assist not only your pet, but other animals as well.

A comprehensive financial plan ensures that all members of your family are taken care of – and that includes your beloved pets. Set up an appointment today to see how you can provide the best for your pets.

October 20, 2015

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.