Estate Planning For Pets — 3 Ways To Ensure A Good Home


Americans increasingly see their pets as part of their family. So, what will happen to your fur baby if you pass away? No matter what you want to happen, the best way to ensure it goes smoothly is to include your pet's care in your estate plan. Not sure how to do this? Here are three ways to not only designate a guardian but also ensure that they can care for your furry friend.   

1. Make a Direct Bequest

Direct bequests are specific instructions for an asset within the will. For pets, you may name a guardian to whom the pet (or pets) should be given. However, you may also attach a sum of money for the pet's care. This sum could be a set dollar amount, the contents of a particular bank account, or a combination thereof. 

One important caveat is that the bequest doesn't necessarily obligate them to use the funds for the pet once they have received both. This method should be used only when you trust the assigned guardian with both the animal and its support. 

2. Create a Pet Trust

Trusts allow the estate planner more control over how funds are used and by whom. To set up a trust for the care of your pet, you would name the pets covered and the assigned caretakers. A separate party may be assigned as trustee, and you may stipulate any conditions you wish for the use of the trust's funds. Finally, fund the trust either before your passing or in planning documents.  

3. Work With a Local Organization

Do you worry that there is no one among your friends or family who would be willing or capable of caring for your pet? Research local animal organizations which may be willing to take on their care.

Many of these are voluntary animal welfare organizations, such as breed or species rescue groups. That makes it important that you consider providing funds to help them take over the care of your animal. Use a pet trust, direct charitable contribution, or direct bequest to pass on funds as well. 

Where to Learn More

Which of these methods of providing for your pet after your death is best in your situation? Find out by meeting with an estate planning attorney in your state. With their expertise, you'll soon find the best solution to care for everyone you love — including your favorite furry, finned, or scaly friends.  


16 May 2023

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