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Estate Planning

Taking Care of Your Pets if You Can't

Estate Planning for Pet Owners  by Alli Thomas

Many Americans consider their pets to be part of their family, but have you included your pet in your estate plan?  

You should not assume that a friend or relative will volunteer to adopt your pet and if you consider your furry friend part of your family, the last thing you want is for your pet to wind up in a shelter.  

2 women sitting at a table filling out a will
woman sitting at kitchen table writing a will
​Here are some estate planning tips for pet owners to consider that will help avoid that outcome: 

Decide who you want to assume ownership of your pet. 

You can’t bequeath money to your pet. But you CAN leave money to whoever will take care of them! Have you identified who that might be? Make sure the person you choose understands what they are signing up for! 

Revise your will to leave money to your pet’s new caretaker. 

Make sure you can trust whoever you decide to appoint to that role. You want to feel confident that, after you die and your pet’s new owner receives his or her money, it will actually be spent on your pet. 


Investigate the possibility of setting up a trust for your pet. 

If you do, you could choose one person to be your pet’s new owner, and another person to be your pet’s guardian. Worried that the new owner won’t follow your wishes? Not to worry. The appointed guardian could sue him or her. If this piques your interest, you should seek advice from an attorney. 

Identify an animal rescue group that can help if you can’t find someone to take your pet. 

Some groups will take care of your pet forever if you make a large enough donation. Others may be willing to keep your pet temporarily until a forever home becomes available. Just don’t assume that a donation guarantees permanent care for your pet. Most organizations can’t accommodate that over the long term. 


If you’re not sure how to include your pet in your estate plan, we can help:

Care for your pet if you can't!

Remember the Family Pet in Estate Planning - Click to read online article

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