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Because pets usually have shorter life spans than their human caregivers, you may have anticipated your animal friend's passing. But what if you are the one who becomes ill or incapacitated, or dies first? As a responsible pet owner, you provide your pet with food and water, shelter, veterinary care, and love. To ensure that your beloved pet will continue to receive care should something unexpected happen to you, it's critical to plan ahead.
LGBTQ folks may want to focus on the issue with extra emphasis, since pets are classified as property. Problems could arise when one partner passes away. Without any written document to back a claim to a companion animal, a surviving partner may not be able to maintain ownership of the pet should the deceased partner’s next of kin wish to take possession of the animal. But estate planning documents can rid a gay or lesbian couple’s fear of such an occurrence taking place.
Make sure you learn what steps you can take to plan and provide for your pet's future without you. The Humane Society of the United States offers a free kit, "Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You," complete with a six-page fact sheet, wallet alert cards, emergency decals for windows and doors, and caregiver information forms. For the full kit, please visit www.hsus.org/petsinwills, call 1-800-808-7858, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org or Rob Blizard, The HSUS, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
NOTE: The following information is intended to provide a general overview and to stimulate your thinking about providing for your pet in the event of your incapacity or death. It is not intended to provide legal advice and is definitely not a substitute for consulting a local attorney of your choosing who is familiar both with the laws of your state and with your personal circumstances and needs, and those of your pets.
Preparing for the Unexpected
In the confusion that accompanies a person's unexpected illness, accident, or death, pets may be overlooked. In some cases, pets are discovered in the person's home days after the tragedy. To prevent this from happening to your pet, take these simple precautions:
- Find at least two responsible friends or relatives who agree to serve as temporary emergency caregivers in the event that something unexpected happens to you. Provide them with keys to your home; feeding and care instructions; the name of your veterinarian; and information about the permanent care provisions you have made for your pet.
- Make sure your neighbors, friends, and relatives know how many pets you have and the names and contact numbers of the individuals who have agreed to serve as emergency caregivers. Emergency caregivers should also know how to contact each other.
- Carry a wallet "alert card" that lists the names and phone numbers of your emergency pet caregivers.
- Post removable "in case of emergency" notices on your doors or windows specifying how many and what types of pets you have. These notices will alert emergency-response personnel during a fire or other home emergency. Don't use stickers; hard-to-remove stickers are often left behind by former residents, so firefighters may assume that the sticker is outdated or, worse, they may risk their lives trying to find a pet no longer in the house.
- Affix to the inside of your front and back doors a removable notice listing emergency contact names and phone numbers. Because pets need care daily and will need immediate attention should you die or become incapacitated, the importance of making these informal arrangements for temporary caregiving cannot be overemphasized.
Ensuring Long-Term or Permanent Care for Your Pet
The best way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled is by making formal arrangements that specifically cover the care of your pet. It's not enough that long ago your friend verbally promised to take in your animal or even that you've decided to leave money to your friend for that purpose. Work with an attorney to draw up a special will, trust, or other document to provide for the care and ownership of your pet, as well as the funds necessary to care for her.
Choosing a Permanent Caregiver
First, decide whether you want all your pets to go to one person, or whether different pets should go to different people. If possible, keep pets who have bonded with one another together. When selecting caregivers, consider partners, adult children, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends who have met your pet and have successfully cared for pets themselves. Also name alternate caregivers in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to take your pet. Be sure to discuss your expectations with potential caregivers so they understand the large responsibility of caring for your pet. Remember, the new owner will have full discretion over the animal's care—including veterinary treatment and euthanasia—so make sure you choose a person you trust implicitly and who will do what is in the best interest of your pet.
Stay in touch with the designated caregivers and alternates. Over time, people's circumstances and priorities change, and you want to make sure that the arrangements you have made continue to hold from the designated caregivers' vantage points. If all else fails, it is also possible to direct your executor or personal representative, in your will, to place the animal with another individual or family (that is, in a noninstitutionalized setting). Finding a satisfactory new home can take several weeks of searching, so again, it is important to line up temporary care.
You also have to know and trust your executor and provide useful, but not unrealistically confining, instructions in your will. You should also authorize your executor to expend funds from your estate for the temporary care of your pet as well as for the costs of looking for a new home and transporting the animal to it. The will should also grant broad discretion to your executor in making decisions about the animal and in expending estate funds on the animal's behalf.
Entrusting Your Pet to an Organization
Most humane organizations do not have the space or funds to care for your pet indefinitely and cannot guarantee that someone will adopt your animal, although some may be able to board and care for your pet temporarily until he can be transferred to his designated caregiver. There are, however, a few organizations that specialize in long-term care of pets of deceased owners. For a fee or donation, these "pet retirement homes" or "sanctuaries" may agree to find your pet a new home or care for your pet until she dies. Be aware, however, that pets are companion animals who need lots of care and affection; they may suffer from long-term confinement in such facilities. Your pet will not want to be institutionalized any more than you would want to be.
Before making any formal arrangements, visit the organization to see how animals are cared for, where they are confined, who looks after them, when they are socialized and exercised, and what policies and procedures exist regarding care at the facility and placement with a new family. Also consider what might happen to your pet if the organization were to suffer funding or staff shortages. If you decide to entrust the care of your pet to an organization, choose a well-established organization that has a good record of finding responsible homes quickly.
Requesting Your Pet Be Euthanized Upon Your Death
Being concerned about what will happen to your pet after your death is normal. But some people take this concern to extremes, requesting that their pet be euthanized out of fear that no one else will care for the animal appropriately. When an owner puts this request in his will, that provision is often ruled invalid by the legal system when the animal is young or in good health and when other humane alternatives are available.
There are some cases when euthanasia may be appropriate. If a pet is very old or requires extensive treatment for a health condition, for example, it may be unfair to both the pet and your designated caregiver to insist on indefinite care. That's why it's important to choose a responsible caregiver and thoroughly discuss the animal's condition and needs so that the caregiver can make the best decision after you're gone.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Before making formal arrangements to provide for the long-term care of your pet, seek help from professionals who can guide you in preparing legal documents that can protect your interests and those of your pet. However, you must keep in mind the critical importance of making advance personal arrangements to ensure that your pet is cared for immediately if you die or become incapacitated. The formalities of a will or trust may not take over for some time.
Although your lawyer will help you decide what type of document best suits your needs, you should be aware of some drawbacks to wills. For example, a will takes effect only upon your death, and it will not be probated and formally recognized by a court for days or even weeks. What's more, if legal disputes arise, the final settlement of your property may be prolonged. Even determining the rightful new owner of your pet can get delayed. In other words, it may take a long time before your instructions regarding your pet's long-term care can be carried out.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you should not include a provision in your will that provides for your pet. It just means that you should explore creating additional documents that compensate for the will's limitations.
Setting Up a Trust
Unlike a will, a trust can provide for your pet immediately and can apply not only if you die, but also if you become ill or incapacitated. That's because you determine when your trust becomes effective. When you create a trust for your pet, you set aside money to be used for his care and you specify a trustee to control the funds.
A trust created separately from your will carries certain benefits. The trust can be written to exclude certain assets from the probate process so that funds are more readily available to care for your pet. Additionally, it can be structured to provide for your pet even during a lengthy disability.
Which Is Right for You—A Will or a Trust?
There are many types of wills and trusts; determining which is best for you and your pet depends on your situation and needs. It's important to seek the advice of an attorney who both understands your desire to provide for your pet and can help you create a will and/or trust that best provides for him.
You and your attorney also need to make sure that a trust for the benefit of one or more specific animals is valid and enforceable in your state; Tennessee currently offers honorary pet trusts, which are different from enforceable pet trusts that allow courts to monitor the care received by pets named in these types of trusts.
Even if your state law recognizes the validity of such trusts, keep in mind that tying up a substantial amount of money or property in a trust for an animal's benefit may prove to be controversial from the point of view of a relative or other heir. Moreover, trusts are legal entities that are relatively expensive to administer and maintain, all of which underscores the need for careful planning and legal advice.
After you and your lawyer create a will, a trust, or both, leave copies with the person you've chosen to be executor of your estate as well as with the pet's designated caregiver so that he or she can look after your pet immediately. (The executor and caregiver may or may not be the same person.) Make sure the caregiver also has copies of your pet's veterinary records and information about her behavior traits and dietary preferences.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney, which authorize someone else to conduct some or all of your affairs for you while you are alive, have become a standard planning device. Such documents can be written to take effect upon your physical or mental incapacity and to continue in effect after you become incapacitated. They are simpler than trusts and do not create a legal entity that needs to be maintained by formal means. Provisions can be inserted in powers of attorney authorizing your attorney-in-fact—the person designated to handle your affairs—to take care of your pets, expend money to do so, and even to place your pets with permanent caregivers if appropriate.
Like any other legal device, however, powers of attorney are documents that by themselves cannot ensure that your pet is fed, walked, medicated, or otherwise cared for daily. Legal devices can only complement your personal efforts in thinking ahead and finding temporary and permanent caregivers who can take over your pet's care immediately when the need arises. It is critical to coordinate, with more formal legal planning, your own efforts in finding substitute caregivers.
Courtesy of the The Humane Society of the United States.
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A gay cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.
Without any surprise, one of the most commonly determined goals for this year is to be happier. It doesn’t matter what you secretly want, such as to lose a couple of pounds, build up your muscles or find the love of your life – the ultimate goal of every single one of us is the same – to be happy.
After all, anything that we want from life, we want so that it could bring us happiness. But happiness will not come to whomever, as every person needs to work hard and think long about all the things that make them happy and actually earn that happiness. The end of every year is the perfect time to start thinking about that, to reflect on the previous year, see the negative points that you never want to repeat again and then see what the aspects you need to focus on more are. Take a look at some of the ideas that will help you become a happier gay man in the next year.
Who cares what others have
The first and most important piece of advice would be to be who you are, but since this is as cliché as it can get, let’s say that the first thing to do is not to compare yourself with other gay people. This is something that can create so many different issues – first of all, with your self-confidence and image which can have a big effect on your life, and secondly, it can affect your relationship with other people. There are certain things that are always “expected” from gay men, such as having abs, being very handsome, having crystal clear skin or dressing up in the latest fashion. Well, be who you are and never try to be someone else so that you can stand out. This is the most important tip you should follow as this is the only way you will truly be happy.
Make yourself a routine
Creating a routine for yourself and having activities that you enjoy doing on a daily basis is an essential thing for your happiness. What is important to know is that your habits create your mood, and the more interesting habits you have, the happier you will be. It is always a good thing when you get to come home from work and have certain things that you can get up to. However, it would be good that your routines in 2020 revolve around everything that is natural, healthy and organic. So, buying yourself a gym membership or taking up a sport are two great ideas. If you want to be bolder, you can always hit the best kratom shop and turn to natural products that will make your daily routine much more pleasant, and you happier. Remember that this doesn’t have to necessarily be a daily routine that you have to create, but rather have several things that you like doing and can do from time to time when you want to feel better.
You are enough for you
Next up, we should turn to one of the biggest issues of unsatisfied people – the fact that they’re single. Now, not all single people are unsatisfied, but the majority of people feel dissatisfaction once they have nobody by their side, which is one of the traits they definitely have to change. You do not need anyone else to tell you are perfect or amazing or pretty or beautiful, you do not need anyone so that you could feel validated. What you can do is spice things up, and if you are a sexual being, you can always find someone to spend several hot nights with. However, if you are looking for a relationship, you need to start with yourself and stop feeling sorry for yourself because you are single. This is what shows, and nobody wants to hit on someone who has a lot of negativity going on.
Socialize with positive people
Photo by Ba Phi from Pexels
There’s nothing that works better for your own happiness than surrounding yourself with people that you love and people who are positive (obviously, you get the most of it when you combine these two and spend time with people who are both positive and very important to you). In 2020, it would be best to ditch negativity and leave it behind – even though it might be difficult, limiting the time you spend with negative people can definitely do wonders for your own mood and overall state of happiness.
Finally, focus on yourself. It is 2020, so whatever you choose to do for your own well-being is definitely not something you should be embarrassed about. If yoga is something that is going to calm you down, take your stress away and thus make you a generally less unsatisfied person – so be it. You can also turn to meditation or simply spending time with your friends and laughing. Laughter is also one of the strongest remedies. You know what they say – when life gives you lemons, make a lemonade. Beyoncé made it and it’s the best album of the decade.
Hopefully, you will be a better person in 2020. After all, it doesn’t matter what you do and how others perceive you – if you like yourself, that’s what matters. So, make the following a New Year’s resolution – love yourself.
You might think that the moment you tie the knot with the same-sex partner, your concerns end (since we did have to go too far and endure too much for this to be legal), but this is only just the beginning.
First of all, congratulations on getting married, we do all wish you a lifetime of happiness. But, you might not have really thought about all the things that you are supposed to think about before tying the knot. Apart from the place where you will be living and the number of kids you want to have, you will have to think about finances and budgeting in general. Being married is not an easy, nor a cheap exercise, and living with someone has plenty of other expenses that you might not have taken into account. But, in order for this to go as painlessly as possible, take a look at some of the best budgeting tips for the two of you:
1. Talk about your priorities
The first thing that you need to do is make a list of the priorities that you might have as a married couple. Knowing these things in advance will not only help you save some more cash in the future, but it can also significantly enhance the communication between the two of you and prevent any future problems that you might face in regards to your relationship. Plenty of people fall out because of irreconcilable differences regarding finances, so the sooner you set these rules in stone, the better. What is your priority? Do you think that the most important thing to do is invest in the house? Do you want to travel, or perhaps invest in a new business? Make sure you talk this out with your partner, as this will be extremely helpful once you have to plan out your finances.
2. Planning out the finances
Now comes the tricky part, and that is planning out your finances. Allocating the amount of money that you will spend on different aspects of your life together is definitely not an easy task. In order to do this, calculate your monthly earnings on one side and write all of your necessary expenses on the other. Next up, try to allocate the amount of money that you will spend on traveling a year, and see if you have to save for that on a monthly basis or not. These are all the things that you are supposed to do if you want to travel effortlessly and to always have a ready fund for things like these. Also, bear in mind that no matter where you are in the world, you will be able to apply for a personal loan if you know where to look, so it would be good to know your finances in advance and plan things accordingly. Do not forget to add a fund for your house or apartment (as probably there will be things to be done there) and some bigger shopping.
3. Long-term planning
Planning is indeed a great thing, so the next step would be to plan bigger. Now, this is the time when you have to think about your long-term finances, and the things that you would like to have accomplished or bought by then. This is also a great way to avoid any arguments in the future. So, where do you see yourself in 20 or 30 years? Do you want to buy a car? Do you want to invest in a big house somewhere out of the city? Knowing these things in advance will only make this process easier when the time comes.
4. Have three different funds
In order to keep everything in perfect control and to avoid any conflicts in the future, it would be a good idea to have three different funds - one that is going to be for the both of you, and two for each of you. This will give both of you an illusion that you have “your own cash”, even though you might not have the opportunity to spend it very often, it is a good feeling. This is also something that you can use if you want to make a purchase that your partner disapproves of. Surely, depending on the amount of money that you both earn a month or year, determine these two funds accordingly. Also, it would be a great idea to have exactly the same amount of money in those funds, regardless of how much each of you earns.
5. Have an emergency fund
Finally, there is another fund that you have to worry about, and that is the emergency fund. This is important for all the married people (and all people in general), but it might be slightly more important for LGBT people as you never know what tomorrow will bring and if you will have to spend a bit more on certain taxes or not. Yes, gay marriages are legal, but it is always to play it safe and keep an emergency fund in case something happens, and you cannot have control of the finances of your partner. Apart from that, this is a good idea as it is always better to be safe than sorry.
It might seem that you have to have different funds, and by having so, you will not see one dime from your salary. Yes, life is expensive nowadays, but with proper budget planning, you will be able to do a lot.