Providing For Your Parrot or Parrot Collection© (In The Event of Your Incapacity, Hospitalization or even Death)
by R.J. McMillan
For many people, particularly the elderly, a parrot or a collection of parrots is an important and comforting part of life, and the care and well being of the parrot or collection is a primary concern.
With this in mind, there are situations in which an owner whatever age should plan for:
(a) Upon the incapacity or hospitalization of the owner of a parrot or a collection of parrots, advance arrangements should be made to ensure care of the parrot or a collection while the owner is hospitalized or incapacitated.
(b) On the death of the owner, provisions are necessary in the owner's Will, to provide effectively for comfort and care of the parrot or collection.
(c) On the death of the owner, advance arrangements should be made to protect the parrot or collection, during the period between the owner's death and the admission of the Will to probate. Too often this period is not considered. Although a Will can make provisions for the care of the parrot or a collection, no action can be taken by the Executor to carry out these provisions until the Will has been admitted to probate and the Executor has received the authority to proceed. The time between death and the authority of the Executor to act can vary between several weeks and several months. Plans must be therefore be made to ensure care for the parrot or a collection during this interim period.
The owner of a parrot or collection should find several friends or relatives willing to take his/her parrot or collection and give a good home on the death of the owner. The matter should be discussed in advance with the potential caretaker to make sure the parrot or collection will be cared for appropriately. The person or persons who will receive a parrot or collection as the result of a bequest in a Will should understand that he or she becomes the parrot or collection owner and, as such, has all the rights and responsibilities of ownership.
The parrot or collection owner should then ask a qualified solicitor to draft his/her Will, leaving the parrot or collection to the caretaker the owner has selected. It is best to name several alternate caretakers in the Will in case the first-named person is unable or unwilling to take the parrot or collection when the time comes.
Another alternative is to give the Executor the discretion to select from among several caretakers prearranged and named by the parrot or collection owner in his/her Will.
Providing Essential Information
The owner must leave readily available, and also include a copy with his/her Will, Identification Details of the Species of each individual parrot, Ring Numbers or Microchip Numbers, Feeding Regime type and quantity of seed, fruit, vegetables, pulses etc. fed daily to each individual parrot, husbandry requirements and any special instructions.
The owner of the parrot or collection should leave written instructions in a prominent position in his/her home and with a relative or friend to notify the shelter (if a shelter is chosen) or the individuals who have agreed to take care of the parrot or collection.
The owner may leave a sum of money to the person designated to care for the parrot or collection, along with a request (not a direction) that the money be used for the parrot or collections care. It is important for the parrot or collection owner to select a caretaker he/she trusts and who will be devoted to the care and well being of the parrot or collection.
The parrot or collection owner should leave only a reasonable amount of money for the care of any parrot or collection. A large sum of money may prompt relatives to challenge the Will and the court may invalidate the bequest for the parrot or collections care.
Designating a Shelter or Charitable Organization
If no friend or relative can be found to take the parrot or collection, then the owner should look for a charitable organization whose function is to care for or place a parrot or collection. A society or shelter might agree to accept the parrot or collection along with a cash bequest to cover expenses.
The charity should agree to take care of the parrot or collection for life or find an adoptive home for the parrot or collection. Before selecting a shelter, find out what kind of care the parrot or collection will receive at the shelter. If the organization is directed to find an adoptive home for the Parrot or Parrot Collection in its care, then the parrot or collection owner should obtain detailed information about the adoption procedure.
Providing for Euthanasia If Caretakers Cannot Be Found
Provisions in a Will directing that a parrot or collection can be euthanised upon the death of its owner. While a parrot or collection owner may feel it is important to protect the parrot or collection from subsequent mistreatment or a "bad home," it is questionable whether a healthy parrot or collection must end by euthanasia when its owner dies. Nevertheless, if a owner wishes to provide for euthanasia, it is preferable to specify in a Will that the parrot or collection be cared for by the Executor or a friend for a period of time and ask that this person attempt to find a good home for the parrot or collection, and if no home is found after a specified reasonable period of time, that the parrot or collection may be taken for euthanasia.
An alternative is to write a letter to a friend or relative stating that upon the death of the parrot or collections owner, the parrot or collection should be euthanised. (A signed copy should be given in advance to the friend or relative and another signed copy should be held with the Will but not made part of the Will). The letter is not legally binding and the friend or relative is not obligated to carry out the instructions of the parrot or collection owner.
It should be noted that if you bequeath your parrot or collection to a friend or relative, that person becomes the owner and has all the rights and obligations of the parrot or collections care, including the right to euthanise the parrot or collection.
Providing Funds During the Transitional Period
Finally, a provision which should be included in all Wills where a parrot or collection is involved, is one allowing the Executor to use estate funds to care for the animal for the period before the animal goes to the new home designated by the parrot or collection owner. The Will should state that the costs of food, veterinary care, transportation and other expenses incurred by the Executor in caring for the decedent's parrot or collection is to be paid from the estate as an estate administration expense, whether or not the expenses are deductible for estate tax purposes.
Short-term arrangements for care of a parrot or collection are necessary to cover the period between the death of the parrot or collections owner and the final settlement of the Will and Estate. These letters give the Executor or Administrator authority to act, but depending on the jurisdiction, it may take from two weeks to two months to obtain them. Short-term arrangements are also necessary if the owner is hospitalized for a period of time.
Arranging For Friends/Relatives To Provide Short-term Care
A parrot or collection owner should try to find a friend or relative who is willing to take care for his/her parrot or collection during these periods. The owner should leave word, preferably in writing, at home and with a neighbour, or with the building management and/or superintendent for the friend or relative to be notified. The parrot or collection owner should arrange for access to his/her home to permit the care and feeding of the pet during such short-term periods. If an apartment is involved, the owner should consider leaving a key with the superintendent or a neighbour. If there is a relative or friend in the area, the owner should consider providing that individual with a key and with written permission to the neighbour/building management to enter the house or flat in the event of the death or hospitalization of the parrot or collection owner.
Arranging for a Shelter or Charitable Organization to Provide Short-term Care
There may be an animal shelter or charitable organization with which arrangements can be made to care for a parrot or collection in the event of the death or hospitalization of the parrot or collection owner. Should the owner make such arrangements, shelter personnel would need written instructions addressed to the superintendent or building management or owners relatives and the key to permit them access. Similarly, the parrot or collection owner should leave written instructions in his/her home and with a relative or friend to notify the shelter (if a shelter is chosen) or the individuals who have agreed to take care of the parrot or collection during this period.
Once the parrot or collection owner has decided upon such arrangements for the short-term care and feeding of the parrot or collection in the event of the owner's incapacity, hospitalization or death, the owner should carry a copy of the instructions as part of his/her identification papers in the event of sudden incapacity, hospitalization or death due to an accident or illness. An example of the type of instructions to carry appears at the end of this article.
Providing Copies of Instructions to the Executors
Finally, in the event of death, and to cover the interim period while letters testamentary are being obtained, the Executors named in your Will should also be given copies of all applicable instructions including those outlined above in Providing Essential Information.
In conclusion, the best way to assure proper care for a parrot or parrot collection under the circumstances described is to make both testamentary and short-term arrangements for the parrot or parrot collection now and to have a Will drafted by a qualified solicitor. Making such arrangements may entail a significant amount of effort on the part of the owner of the parrot or parrot collection, but is important so that the owner's a parrot or parrot collection is cared for in the event of the owner's hospitalization, incapacity or death.
Sample Note to Carry in Wallet or Purse Regarding Emergency Care
In any situation in which I am unable to return home to feed my parrot or parrot collection, such as my incapacity, hospitalization or death, please immediately call [Name] at [address and phone] or [Name] at [address and phone], to arrange for the feeding of [my parrot or collection] located at my home [address]. The landlord of my flat [name, address and phone], my Executors [name, address and phone], and my neighbour [name, address and phone] has a copy of this document and keys to my home, with permission to give them to the presenter of this document.
(Signature) & (Date)
This article is not offered as legal advice and should not be relied upon without the independent advice of a qualified solicitor concentrating in such matters.
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