This is the twelfth post in a long sequence where I want to share stories of real people I have met either while working with a life insurance company, or as an independent investment adviser. My goal is to share their stories so I can impart the lessons I learned in the hopes that these lessons will also serve others - this is for you, my readers!
*All my subjects will be either John or Mary, for privacy reasons.
On such an important day of the year, I have some funny stories to share and some important things to discuss. I want to bring to light a subject that may not be at the top of your list but it may be something that nags your subconscious. I remember a story from back in school when we learned that in Britain it was believed in the old days that animals could talk on Christmas. Celebrating the occasion, I want to talk about our fur babies. As a proud cat mama, this topic is very near and dear to my heart.
Quick side note, before going to today's topic: you may want to check into pet insurance. I'm not saying it is something everyone should have. I just believe it is great for some families, one of which was my own (back in 2015 and some before).The main reason to get it would be a pet that can develop serious issues. The rates vary and there are a few companies offering it now. Please do your research before you make a decision.
Main lesson: when making plans for what will happen with your family after you pass away, make sure to include your fur-babies (or feather-babies - whichever applies). If you have underage children (of the human variety) you should have documents in place that provide for their guardianship and their care in case you are not around to take care of them. The same things applies to the four-legged babies. The main difference is the fact that the latter need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives and not just a limited number of years.
When taking care of your estate planning, you need certain documents in place, such as a will, a living will and 2 powers-of-attorney (medical and financial). A more complex and defined alternative (also stronger after you are gone) is a living trust, which includes all of the above. The living trust is a great tool to protect your fur-babies after your passing and it can be set up for a cost that is not prohibitive for most people, though higher than the basic documents. In order to ensure you have the best protection in place, please contact a trusted attorney.
While working with the life insurance company, I met a lot of the four-legged babies of the people we served. Since pet insurance was never something we offered, my stories are more about the pets than about any financial implications on the family's life. For the holidays, this is my gift to you: a smile.
It's already been a few years since I left the life insurance company and I still remember some of the pets I met during the years I was visiting families in the field. They made an impression on me, and to this day I still carry them in my heart. I remember stopping by someone's house and meeting their German shepherd; she seemed so determined to protect her territory that I didn't have the courage to get out of my car. Later, I went back and met the owner and was told that she was very protective of the family and it was possible that she would have attacked me. My gut feeling served me well that day. I still have a lot of respect for her - wherever she may be today.
I also remember another German shepherd (from Norfolk, VA). I met him at a retired police officer's house and the dog himself was a retired police office. I remember how the owner had him in the sun-room and with one word, "stay," the only part of the dog I saw through the door was part of his nose; until he was permitted to come into the kitchen. I was honored to meet my first K9 police officer. I was very impressed and, as you can tell, he made a very long-lasting impression.
A funny story that just came to mind is meeting 3 pets in the same house, 2 dogs and a cat. The lady I met told me the dogs were little when they came into the family as rescues and so the cat had served for a surrogate mother. The big pitbulls were very well behaved and I could tell who the boss was. I remember sitting with the lady on the sofa, while one of the dogs was lying on his bed on the floor and the cat sat next to me. I didn't have any cats at the time, so I felt very special that the cat had come so close. I had already petted both of the dogs with the owner's permission, so I was about to turn around and give the kitty a little bit of love. The lady warned me that the cat is dangerous and she bites; a quick hiss and determined look convinced me of the wisdom of keeping my hand to myself. I remember smiling at the time at the idea that the pitbulls were more tame than the kitty.
Hope I managed to keep my promise and put a smile on your face with these quick memories I shared. If so, please let me know, and I might surprise you again with some more stories about four-legged babies in the near future.
All the best for the the holidays to you and your babies - with or without fur :)