Pet Guardians: Is Your Pet Protected?

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Mike Johnson is a freelance writer and a human rights activist and an enthusiast. Through his extensive research and commitment to the field of law, Mike has established himself as a well-decorated writer in this field. Mike currently settles Las Vegas, and loves starting his day with a shot of espresso and cycling through his neighborhood.

Why You Should Include Your Pet In Your Will

Cat rubbing against her human's legs in the kitchen while getting her face rubbed

Your pets are part of the family, and it is only natural that you should want to make sure your pets are safe if you’re hurt. Thankfully, you can use your will to protect them and ensure that they will be cared for by someone you trust when you are gone. 

An estate planning attorney can help you to make the necessary provisions to make sure that your pet will go to someone who will love and care for it, giving it a comfortable and happy life even if you are no longer able to.

How Do You Put Your Pet In A Will?

Your pet counts as your property in the eyes of the law, which means they are part of your estate. Like any other property in your estate, you can use your last will and testament to gift your pet to a beneficiary listed in your will. By naming someone as the beneficiary who will receive your pet, they will become a pet guardian of your pet. 

It is important to be as specific as possible, especially if you have multiple pets. For example, include your pet’s name and breed, and the full legal name of the person you want to be their pet guardian. This will help avoid any confusion or disputes over who will inherit your pet.

Related: 20 Houseplants Safe For Pets [And 20 Plants Toxic For Pets]

Choosing A Pet Guardian

One of your first priorities when choosing a pet guardian should of course be to pick someone who you can trust to love and care for your pet the same way that you do.

However, it is also important to consider the capabilities of your chosen pet guardian when it comes to the practical aspects of caring for your pet. For example:

  • Can they afford care for your pet, including not just regular expenses such as food, but also emergency costs such as healthcare?
  • Is their home suitable for your pet to live in?
  • Does your potential pet guardian have the time to give your pet the attention and companionship they need?
  • If the pet is potentially dangerous, is the person capable of handling it safely?

Leave Money For Pets?

Woman hugging her horse, thankful she has a pet guardian to care for her

You can’t leave money to your pets directly. However, you can leave money for the person you have selected to be their pet guardian, along with a request that they use the assets to provide care for your pet. This can be helpful if caring for your pet might be a significant financial burden for the person you think will give your pet the most love and care.

Requests like this are not legally binding though, so you need to be able to trust the person you are making your pet guardian. Alternatively, you could instead create a pet trust for your pet.

Set Up A Pet Trust

A pet trust allows you to give someone money and instructions for taking care of your pet. If someone agrees to become a trustee of your pet trust, they are legally obliged to use the funds as your instructions direct them. These typically provide the trust money as a series of scheduled payments, rather than as a single lump sum.

Leaving Instructions For Your Pet Guardian

Whether you create a pet trust or not you can also make a request that describes the care you want them to give your pet. These kinds of requests often include:

  • Specify the types of food that your pet should be fed, such as requiring only organic food.
  • Establish how often your pet should be taken to the vet for a check-up.
  • Stating what the pet guardian should do if your pet has a serious illness or injury.

Unless these requests are included as part of the instructions in your pet trust agreement, they are not legally binding or legally enforceable. Accordingly, giving them to someone you can trust, and keeping the requests themselves reasonable, can help ensure they are actually followed.
You might also be interested in: The 10 Best Subscription Boxes For Your Pets [Dogs, Cats, Birds And Horses]

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