The Oasis Sanctuary receives numerous letters and telephone calls from people working on Estate Plans who wish to leave their birds to The Oasis when they die and need guidelines to help them set this up in their Will. Often these people also wish to provide financial support for their birds and want information on how to assure that their wishes are carried out upon their death or their inability to care for their birds. A commonly asked question is “how much money does The Oasis require in order to take a bird?”
In order to “guesstimate” how much money it will cost to care for your bird use the following guidelines:
- What is the life expectancy of your species of bird? Subtract the age of your bird from this number. This gives you the average number of years your bird might be in Sanctuary.
- Go to the Sponsorship Fees page to see the annual sponsorship cost for each species. Multiply the expected number of years your bird would be in our care by this number. This will be the lowest amount it would take for The Oasis to care for your bird.
- Add in the potential cost of medical care, particularly as the bird gets older.
- Add in the cost-of-living (food, etc.) increases.
Example: A 20-year-old Macaw can easily live another 40 years. At today’s costs, based on our Sponsorship costs, $720 a year would total $28,800 for 40 years. Add in cost of living and inflationary increases and the number could easily be over $30,000. Add in the medical care (perhaps $5,000 over the life of the bird) and it could conceivably cost The Oasis approximately $35,000 to care for only one Macaw.
Although we always try to honor the wishes stated in people’s Wills, we hope that people will send financial support to The Oasis during their lifetimes to ensure that we will still have the space and resources to care for your bird when the time comes. As of September 2011, we have many birds at The Oasis Sanctuary whose owners have either passed away or relocated to nursing homes. Several of them arrived with little or no financial support from their former caregiver.
Please understand that we are not going to turn away a bird because you cannot come up with the tens of thousands of dollars needed for that bird’s care. But we do desperately need your help. We cannot count upon the general population to help the many birds that need our help….so we ask please do the best you can! Helping us develop our infrastructure, housing for the birds, expanded water systems, aviaries and more today will enable us to take in more birds tomorrow.
The laws regarding Wills and Estates vary considerably from state to state. Therefore we always suggest consulting with your own estate attorney. We would be happy to put you or your attorney in contact with The Oasis’ attorney to ensure that both sides work together for the best care possible for your beloved bird.
Simply put, planning for your bird’s future care is not difficult. A life insurance policy naming The Oasis as beneficiary is relatively easy to set up. IRA’s, specific bank accounts or specified amounts of money or property can be bequeathed in your Will. Trusts, particularly those that pay an annual dividend to the Sanctuary, can also be drawn up by your attorney or your bank.
In your Will, it must be specified who is to get your birds. If there is more than one bird, all birds that are coming to The Oasis Sanctuary should be named and described. The Oasis’ contract with the relinquishing owner, in this case your Trustee or Executor, will guarantee lifetime care for the birds.
It is imperative to have someone who can care for the birds between the time of your incapacitation and/or death and the date when the birds would be relocated to The Oasis Sanctuary. This person should preferably not be a family member, as they could be too distressed to worry about your birds or pets. If you do not have a bird-sitter or bird-savvy friend, please contact your Veterinarian to see who s/he can recommend. Often there are vet techs who will take on temporary care during emergencies or even vacations. Doing this while you are healthy and able to work with the potential temporary caregiver will make things smooth and easy if you run into some sort of emergency…or simply want to take that much needed trip.
Your Executor needs to have a copy of your Will plus a copy of your instructions, or at least the sections which have the temporary selected caregiver’s name and number, your Veterinarian’s name and phone number, The Oasis’ name, number and address and your preferred method of shipment or delivery. Remember to update your Will periodically, particularly when you acquire or lose a bird. Please keep in mind that the people you select today as Executors or caregivers could become unavailable in the future.
Prior to being transported to The Oasis, each bird will need to be seen by your Avian Veterinarian for an Oasis-specific series of health tests. Your Veterinarian should call the Sanctuary at that time to find out what tests we require. Please make sure that s/he has our number and contact information available. At today’s costs, you can anticipate the medical workup for most large species will be approximately $500 – $600 per bird. This and miscellaneous “travel expenses” should also be set-aside for this time. Airline costs across country can be a few hundred dollars as well, so plan on at least $1,000 per bird to be set aside in an accessible account for use by the caregiver.
When the birds arrive at The Oasis, your Executor should also send an envelope containing their health certificates (needed by airlines etc. to cross state lines with a pet), a list of the birds’ names with a corresponding picture if there is more than one bird being sent, their ages, medical records, special needs, likes and dislikes.
Prior to finalizing your estate plans, we encourage you to make a personal visit to the Sanctuary to make sure it meets your expectations. It is also very important to us that you let us know that you have specified in your Will that your birds are to be sent to The Oasis upon your death. We ask that you send us the pertinent documents previously mentioned for our files. We always want to make sure that, as much as possible, we have housing for all the birds whose current caregivers wish their birds to come here.
Hopefully this answers some of your questions. All other information, including any laws peculiar to your state, should be left in the hands of your attorney. Just remember that in this day and age our beloved birds are considered “property” and as such, you cannot leave property (i.e., life insurance proceeds) to property. Hopefully, long before your old age and death, the laws will become more enlightened.