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Planning for Your Pet Even After You’re Gone

No one wants to think about their own passing, and the less time we have to devote to it, the longer our lives will probably be!  But it’s inevitable – eventually we will pass, whether we expect it or not.  We all want to ensure that our families are provided for, and that includes our four-legged children as well as our human ones.  Planning ahead can provide protection for everyone in the event of your death.  The most common way to plan ahead is to take legal action, usually by making a will.  But is there room for pets in your will?

Sad Dog

Pets Are Not People

Alas, our four-legged friends are considered property, and thus cannot inherit anything from us.  That doesn’t mean they’re left out of the will, though!  There are a lot of ways to ensure a pet’s needs are cared for in the event of its owner’s death or incapacitation, and these can be fortified by your will.  Since a pet is property, an owner can leave it to an heir, and also set up a trust fund to provide for it.  A second benefit to doing this is that wills are not often enforced right away, but trust funds can be set up to use even before a pet owner’s death.

Pet Will

Trusting for Trust Funds

So really, the first thing you should do to plan for your pet’s future is seek out someone you can trust to take care of your pet if you become incapacitated or worse.  This includes considering how they get along with your pet, as well as how well your pet’s breed can adapt to their lifestyle.  This is an on-going process, as everyone’s life can change, and your original designee might wind up not being able to do anything after all.  Having alternate options is also recommended.  All of these people should be given regular updates about your pet’s health and proper care, and also be put in contact with one another in case you can’t contact them yourself.  Many pets are found tragically after being trapped alone for days because no one thought to check on them.  Being ready in advance can protect your pet if you become incapacitated, where a will only goes into effect after death.  A will, however, provides a final foundation for both the designees and the trust fund by putting it all in writing.


What If There is No Designee?

Sometimes, family can’t take the pet for a variety of very good reasons, such as allergies, pet restrictions at their dwellings, or their own health issues.  Many pet owners refuse medical or hospice care because they’re afraid their pets will wind up in a shelter, and thus euthanized.  In the case of older pets, there is a perception that they are unadoptable.  However, there are options.  If you can’t find anyone in your own acquaintance to care for your pet in the event of the unfortunate, there are organizations which help people in exactly this situation.  Some organizations foster the pet until a forever-home can be found, and others send volunteers specifically to care for pets, leaving owners and their loved ones to focus on caring for themselves.  These are charities and volunteer organizations, and can be found by reaching out to no-kill shelters and animal activism groups.

Man and Dog

Pets give us peace of mind in life, and if they outlive us, deserve the same peace of mind after we are gone.  For most pet owners, our pets are just as much our family as our human relatives and loved ones, and we want the security of knowing they will be cared for when we’re not around to do it ourselves.  Providing for a pet in a will is different from leaving money to a relative, but can still be done in a way that ensures our furry friends will benefit as well.


Contributed by: Emily Ridgewell is an arts professional and a pet enthusiast from sunny LA. Emily has a creative energy and an aesthetic sense of living, where everything beautiful is worth sharing. She loves her yorkie Olivia and writes original and fun articles on ways to learn and improve your pet-best friend’s life. She finds exciting new things to explore and experience! Don’t forget to connect with her in Twitter: @ridgewell_j

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