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Berger is our 2.5 year old rescue dog. We think he might be an Australian Kelpie Cattle Dog from the streets of West Virginia. When we first brought him home from the shelter last August he wouldn’t stop shaking in fear. It took him at least 6 months to finally come out of his shell and show his true outgoing personality. I am writing this personal story to share the importance of financial planning for your dog. You read that right, owning a pet can come with serious financial considerations!

Berger recently developed inflammation in his brain causing a host of issues that his veterinarian and puppy neurologist are having trouble diagnosing. With the out of pocket costs in the high thousands with no diagnosis in sight, I cannot stress the importance of purchasing a low cost pet insurance policy for unexpected expenses.

While I focus on financial planning for humans, it’s critical to plan for unexpected circumstances that can occur in your life, including with your pet. Besides the normal costs of vaccinations, vet visits, food, water and equipment, it is not uncommon for dogs to get sick or injured with the out of pocket costs soaring well over $10,000 forcing you to decide between euthanizing your family friend and paying out of pocket assuming you have built up an emergency fund of 3-6 months of living expenses. So what happens to your pets (just like your children) when you pass away? What happens if your pet were to get sick and you cannot afford the out of pocket expenses?

Here a few items to consider when owning a pet:

  1. Estate Planning: Just as you prepare a will to make sure you have a guardian for your minor children if you were to pass away prematurely, make sure to include who you would like to care for your pets in the event of incapacity or death.
  2. Risk Management (Pet Insurance): While every case is different, I personally believe pet insurance is best for extraordinary and unexpected costs, not basic vet care or wellness. To insure against a high cost event, you can purchase a policy with a high deductible but one that has a high maximum coverage. Make sure you speak to several companies to learn about what is covered and what is not. For example:a.  Is the deductible per event or per year?
    b.  What percentages does the pet insurance reimburse you?
    c.  What is the waiting period?
    d.  Is there a pre-existing condition that is not covered?

There are many questions to ask and ways to compare policies. The best way to learn is to speak with multiple companies.

Owning a pet is one of life’s great joys but they require a lot of attention and financial resources. If you have any questions about planning for your own financial situation, do not hesitate to reach out for a complimentary meeting to review your entire financial situation, from Paw to Tail!

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Steve joined Planning Solutions Group in 2015 and specializes in providing comprehensive financial plans to high-net worth individuals and families. During his career he has realized that his true passion is for building long-term relationships with clients and helping them through the various financial challenges they may face. Steve’s mission is to act as a true advocate for his client’s financial well-being. Prior to joining Planning Solutions Group, Steve spent four years as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Keeney Financial Group in Columbia, MD. He has also had the privilege of working for Convergent Wealth Advisors, Legg Mason and NVR, Inc. Steve currently holds the prestigious CFP® designation and has his FINRA series 7 and life and health insurance licenses. In addition to providing clarity and confidence in all financial matters to his clients, Steve is passionate about giving back to the community. He currently lives in Baltimore City with his new wife and spends his free time rock climbing, travelling, cooking and volunteering with The Associated, a Jewish Philanthropic organization. To email