Investment advisor offers pet care plan

Forever Friends plan aids pets after their owners die

Many seniors’ wills include provisions for who gets their dog, cat, horse, guinea pig or other furry or feathered friend when they die.

But what if the appointed guardian for the surviving pets can’t or won’t take them? What if the pets unintentionally end up at an animal shelter or local Humane Society instead?

Kennewick’s Benton-Franklin Humane Society has a no-kill policy, and the agency transfers animals to other no-kill Humane Societies throughout the Pacific Northwest and California if its facility becomes crowded, or if the animal might have a better chance of being adopted in another area.

However, it still can be difficult to place pets in a new forever home.

But what if those pets came with an incentive to adopt in the form of free food and veterinary care for life? What if that money supported pets during their time at the shelter and in their new home?

That is what the Our Forever Friends pet protection plan aims to do for pets left behind after their owners die.

Todd Halterman, a Tri-City investment advisor for more than two decades, saw a need for post-mortem care for orphaned pets, and founded Our Forever Friends.

“Eighty-five percent of the time, the person designated to take care of the (orphaned) pet can’t,” Halterman said. “Three to 5 million animals are euthanized per year in the U.S., just from owners’ plans not working out.”

Our Forever Friends allows people to create a financial plan so their pet can maintain its lifestyle with IRA funds while bypassing the IRS completely, Halterman said.

“Loved ones, charity and the IRS are who you have to choose from for your estate to go to when you die,” said Halterman during a talk at the Humane Society’s recent Feel the Love volunteer recognition event.

With a pet protection plan, owners designate who they want their pets to go to and set up a trust fund for their pets’ ongoing care from IRA funds, Halterman said.

Plans range from free to $249. Halterman offers three options: A simple do-it-yourself pet protection decree, which is free, includes a video conference to learn how to complete the plan; complete pet protection plan, which is $89, offers a “turn-key concierge service” to develop the plan and assistance with guaranteed funding and adoption strategies; and the platinum plan, which is $249, guarantees the pet protection plan is complete and followed through with funding, and when needed, work with customers’ local legal teams.

If their first-choice plan fails to entrust the pet to a friend or family member, they can specify in their will that their pet is to be surrendered to the nonprofit Humane Society, with the IRA funds set aside being donated to the agency in the form of a monthly stipend.

The stipend reflects the average monthly cost for food and veterinary care, tailored to that specific animal.

Halterman said the average is “$112 per pet, per month.”

The Humane Society would use the money to ensure the pet’s health is up to date and could include spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchips, flea treatments and deworming.

Once the pet transitions into foster care or is adopted, the monthly stipend is distributed by the Humane Society to the new caretaker or owner in the form of ongoing veterinary care and food.

When the pet dies, any remaining money in the trust is passed on to the Humane Society.

Last year, the Benton-Franklin Humane Society took in 776 owner-surrendered animals, 99 strays and more than 200 transfers from other organizations and adopted out 1,116 animals.

“We’re going to take it national, but want to prove it here local,” Halterman said. “The average cost of housing and adopting a pet here at the Humane Society, if they have to stay in there because there’s medical issues, is $3,000 or $4,000. That is not sustainable.”

Citizens also always have the option to plan for the future by leaving money and ownership of their animal to local Humane Society by indicating these wishes in their will.

» Our Forever Friends: ourforeverfriends.com; 509-713-9495.

» Benton-Franklin Humane Society: bfhs.com; 509-374-4235; 1736 E. Seventh Ave., Kennewick.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. The Benton-Franklin Humane Society has not partnered with Halterman or his company. (7/3/19)

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