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Updated: Apr 25

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Anyone who has a pet knows the minute you bring them home, they are family. We take our pets on vacation and include them in our Christmas cards. One area we may overlook or don’t want to think about is what will happen to our beloved fur babies when we pass. There are a couple of ways you can ensure your pet(s) are taken care of after you’re gone.

Assign a Pet Guardian in Your Will

According to the law, pets are considered property. If you pass away and don’t have a specific person named as your pet’s guardian in your will, your pet will go to whoever receives the estate. This may be someone who doesn’t want the pets and is left to decide what to do with them. One easy way to make sure your pets go to the person you wish after you’re gone is to include a pet guardian in your will.

It’s essential to be specific when leaving your pets to a designated pet guardian. If you have more than one pet, list the pets by their name and breed and use the pet guardian’s full legal name. This will prevent any confusion or misunderstandings when the will is enacted.

Consider the following when deciding on a pet guardian, as this will be a size-able responsibility for them.

  • Contact the person you want to appoint and make sure they agree to take your pets.

  • Choose someone who will give your pets the same love and attention as you.

  • Make sure the person you choose has a house that can accommodate your pets.

  • Choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes.

An attorney would be able to assist you in putting your pets in your will as well as making sure it is correctly done so it is recognized by the law.

Set Up a Pet Trust

A pet trust is a legal document you would want to contact an attorney for help setting up. You can set up a pet trust if you want to go one step further in ensuring your pets are cared for according to your wishes. The trust lets you leave a designated amount of money and directions taking on the care of your pet.

When setting up a pet trust, you assign a trustee, essentially a pet guardian. This person is legally able to manage the trust when you pass. In addition, this person will legally have the authority to manage your pet's care if you were to be too ill to take care of them. You can touch on the following subjects to ensure your pet's trust is clear and understandable.

  • Details about your pet's feeding-food type, how often, how much, etc.

  • Discuss the exercise your pet typically gets: around the house or at a dog park.

  • Provide the appropriate information about the veterinary care-name, the location of the vet, and how often you take your pet.

  • Any health concerns your pet may have and any medications they are taking.

  • The amount of money you will leave to cover all the expenses necessary for the rest of the pet's life.

Nobody wants to think about their passing, but if you have pets you want to guarantee they will be appropriately taken care of, it's a good idea to put them in your will or create a pet trust. Contacting an attorney would be beneficial in setting both of these up, and it will verify thedocuments are completed correctly.

Sources:Retrieved February 22, 2023, from



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