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Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Planning

Can I add my pet(s) into my will?
  • The short answer is yes, but there are some things to consider...
  • Animals are (unfortunately) considered property in the eyes of the law, which means any money left in a will specifically for a pet or that pet's care isn't guaranteed. The person left in charge of the pet's care can spend that money how they please and the court holds no power to stop them.
What should I consider when planning for my pets?
  • Who will I leave in charge of my companion animal's well-being? Choose someone who you can trust and is familiar with your pets, their personalities and any special needs they may have. There are also other options like animal-care and shelter organizations.
  • Do I want to leave money for their care? Though optional, when creating their overall estate plan, many people will designate money for the care of their pets.
  • If I leave money, how much should I leave? Though there is no rule of thumb, some questions you should ask yourself are:
  • Where would I like the remaining money to go after my pet(s) pass away?
  • How much money am I currently spending on my pet(s)' lifestyle?
  • Do they have any special needs or medical issues?
  • How old are my pet(s)?
Are wills my only option for planning for my pets future?
  • Luckily there are other legally binding documents that can be created on behalf of your pet's well-being.
  • A Pet Trust is a legal document that provides for the care and maintenance of a person's pet(s) in the case of that person's death. Funds are left in a trust for the trustee (the person left in charge of the companion animals' care) to pay for the care and maintenance of that person's beloved pet.
What should I do to prepare planning for a pet trust?

Some things to think about:

  • Who will your pets' Caretaker be? Consider someone who is familiar with your animals and their lifestyle. Or someone who is willing and able to care for your animals and able to follow the instructions you leave for your beloved pet's care.
  • How will a Caretaker know how to care for my pets? Consider leaving very detailed instructions for the Caretaker, so they can know with some certainty how best to care for your pets.
  • What if my designated Caretaker can no longer care for pets or can't initially take them in? To be safe, you should designate a substitute Caretaker(s), in order to assure that your companion animals are taken care of in case the original Caretaker is unable to perform their duties.
  • Who should I appoint as Trustee? A Trustee will be in charge of disbursing the necessary funds to the Caretaker on behalf of your pets. The Trustee should be someone you have complete confidence in, especially in financial matters. Additionally, just as it is important to name substitute (successor) Caretakers, it is also important to name a successor Trustee.
  • What if I don't know of anyone I can name as a Caretaker? There are nonprofit organizations that provide care for pets and other organizations that can arrange for pets to be placed in homes through a foster care system. These programs require contributions and most additionally require advance enrollment.
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