What to Do When Your Pet Will Outlive You

Deciding on a Care Plan for Your Parrot, Tortoise or Other Long-Living Exotic

Being a responsible pet parent means thinking about the future of your pet’s life. Sometimes that means deciding in advance about end-of-life care for your pet. But sometimes that means planning for a future where your pet outlives you. This is a question faced by many elderly pet parents and those with terminal illnesses, but it’s also a practical consideration for anyone choosing the companionship of an animal that could live a very long time.

Getting a pet is always a long-term commitment, but some pets stretch this beyond regular expectations. Large parrots can live to be 70 years old, and even smaller birds are likely to live well into their 20s. Some tortoises live more than a century, and even popular turtle varieties like red-eared sliders can reach age 50. Koi fish can reach 100 years or more, and many other fish varieties can live for decades with proper care.

If you’re planning to adopt one of these long-lived exotics or already have one in your care, planning ahead for the future is essential.

A Pet Trust for End-of-Life Planning

One of the best ways to ensure your pets are appropriately cared for after you pass away is to set money aside in a special trust for their care. In a trust, you designate funds and specify how they must be allocated and what standard of care is to be provided. There is a trust beneficiary, who will be named as your pet’s caretaker, as well as a trustee, who ensures that the terms of the trust are followed. This allows you some peace of mind as it puts a legal process in place to ensure your instructions are followed after you’re gone.

Pet trusts can be put in place for any animal and can be made as detailed or broad as necessary for your specific needs. An attorney with experience in estate planning can help you to sort out these details.

Special Considerations for Exotic Pets

It’s often easier to find a willing and competent caretaker for a dog or cat than for a more exotic pet. Large enclosures, specific temperature requirements, unique diets – not everyone is equipped to handle the needs of a large bird or reptile. You may not have friends or family up to the task, and you don’t want to worry about what kind of care your pet will receive if something happens to you. Making considerations in advance and having a care plan established will give you peace of mind.

When looking for a caretaker, it’s often best to ask around within the hobbyist community for your type of pet in your area. You can ask your veterinarian for tips on who to contact or run a search for local rescue organizations specializing in your specific pet. If your pet originally came from a breeder or rescue, you might also want to reach out to them for guidance. They might be willing to take your animal back in an emergency or point you toward long-term planning resources.

If you decide to work with a rescue organization, it’s a good idea to choose one that’s been around for a while and is firmly established. This helps ensure that it will still be in business years from now when their services may be needed.

A Lifetime of Love

Your companions are with you for a lifetime – and loving them means planning for every future outcome. Having a plan in place for their care without you is important, but so is having a plan for saying goodbye if they pass away first. That’s where Best Friends comes in.

Our Albuquerque pet cremation and memorial services are available for pets of any size and shape, from dogs and cats to birds and reptiles. We offer pre-planning assistance and can help you think ahead to the future, but we’re also on-call for when you need us right away. If you have recently lost your pet, or are anticipating their passing soon, call us at 505-345-5615 and our team will help guide you through it.