Thursday, October 8, 2015

Something To Think About

We had an unsettling occurrence at our current r.v. park that gave us a lot to think about.   A 63 year old man named Gary died shortly after being taken to the hospital.  He left two cats behind in his motor coach.  A friend within the park cared for the cats in Gary’s r.v. and the manager allowed the r.v. to remain on its lot with the air conditioning running for the cats.  The park manager is a major animal lover and went to great measures on behalf of the cats, but this may not be the case with all r.v. park owners and managers.  Gary’s friend had a key to the r.v..  I don’t know how he came to have one, but it got me thinking that someone should have access to our rig, especially since we have pets.  The r.v. park manager once told me that she likes to see residents at least every couple of days, as she has had people pass away at the park before.  It made me think how cool it is that she checks on people, but also made me aware of the need to be seen in parks that don’t make a routine of checking.  I think this is especially true, if you live with pets.  We are traveling with two dogs and two cats!  Gary had a few casual friends in the park, but for the most part stayed to himself.  They knew little about him and that stood out, as point number 1:  In an r.v. park, we are likely to be with people who know nothing of our personal business regarding Wills and next of kin!  The park manager looked through Gary’s r.v. for a Will.  She commented that she didn’t see anything that looked like a box that would contain a Will.  That stood out as point 2:  Have your Will or an informal written directive with who to contact in the event of your death in a location easy to find.  In Gary’s case, the best the manager could do was to start calling numbers on his cell phone.  He did not have next of kin that could be located, so his vehicle, the r.v., and its contents including the cats became property of the probate court system.  A few weeks went by with the r.v. still at the r.v. park and Gary’s friend caring for the cats.  The manager called all the area animal shelters and Gary’s friend personally visited vets offices, shelters, and even a pet supply store looking for leads on a placement for the cats.  Both people were turned away, due the shelters Summer overload.  It was looking like the cats would be euthanized.  A resident animal lover within the park managed to get an opening within a no-kill shelter, but by that time the representative from the court was involved and the park manager felt she had to acquiesce the decision regarding the cats to the court representative.  In this case, the court representative was an animal lover and had made arrangements with another shelter to take the cats.  Although the shelter had a questionable reputation, the manager was told the cats wouldn’t be euthanized.  The park resident that had found the first shelter opening made a point to get the cat’s vet records to help prove the distraught cats were indeed house pets and not feral.  By this time the park owner and manager were ready to have the cats gone, even if it meant euthanizing them, as leaving the r.v. in a rentable lot with air conditioning running was costing the park money.  I have to give the management at Trails End R.V. Park in Camp Verde, AZ credit for going above and beyond on behalf of Gary’s cats, but I don’t assume that this would be the norm for all parks.  A Will or informal directive including contacts and information about your wishes for your pets should be placed in your r.v. in a location easily seen.  Your contact person should also have a copy of your written directive.  I’m still baffled by the financial end of making final arrangements for pets, but a friend suggested the primary contact could pay by credit card from across the country to carry out one’s wishes.
Another issue to consider is identification in your wallet to be attached to your driver’s license.  Since, as a full time RVer the address on your drivers license most likely isn’t where you are located, a card should be made up that lists the RV Park you are staying in, a contact number for the park office, a contact number for a family member, and a notation as to the pets you have traveling with you.  On longer RV Park stays I have decided I’ll ask the office about keeping a key to our rig during our stay, as well as, provide them with a contact’s information.  None of us want to think about such unpleasantness, but as travelers living amongst strangers it would be wise for us to have at a minimum current identification information on us, emergency access to our rigs, and an informal directive including contacts placed where it can be easily found.

In regards to Wills I’ve done some minimal research and it appears that creating a basic Will isn’t as complicated as I had assumed.  We plan to put something together with the idea that something is better than nothing in making our wishes known.  Here are some tidbits of advice I picked up:

1.     A totally handwritten Will is legal, as long as it is clear that it is a Will.

2.     A Will should be all handwritten or all typed.  No mixing of the two!

3.     Generally spouses have their own wills that mirror each other. 

4.     A Will requires two witnesses to your signature.

5.     Wills do not have to be notorized.

6.     Wills can be signed and witnessed in a state other than your residency.

Best Wishes