Pets Are Family Too, So Remember Them in Your Will

BY Arleen Richards TIMEDecember 10, 2012 PRINT
Dog and Cat Show
Pampered pups participate in Dog and Cat Show in New York, Oct.17, 2010 (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

There are a lot of pampered pets out there. Our cats and dogs and other varieties of animals are as much responsibility as children. Pet owners have to care for and feed their beloved pets, in some cases clothe them too, just as parents do for their children, not to mention how much we love and adore them.

So it’s only natural that dedicated pet owners should consider who is the right person to continue caring for their pets when they are no longer around. Pets can sense loss and suffer from feelings of grief just like people, so some preparation for the future care and support of your pet is necessary.

In your will, provide as much pet identification information as you can. For example, the name, type of animal, whether your pet has been spayed or neutered, date of birth or approximate age, weight, and a general description. Depending on your state laws, you may also need to provide microchip ID number and license number.

No one knows your pet better than you do, even if you choose an avid animal lover.So discuss your pet’s behaviorial traits in your will. Briefly talk about your pets preferences, dislikes, fears, or habits. Also, explain what obedience language or nonverbal commands your pet responds to. Is your pet allowed outside and does he like children?

And, most importantly, what is your pet’s routine, such as walking, eating, sleeping, playing, eliminating, etc.

Finally, let the future caretaker know about your pet’s health history and the name of your veterinarian.

Assigning a Guardian

Choosing a caretaker for your pet is not that much different from choosing a guardian for your children. When preparing your will, don’t forget to assign a pet guardian and choose someone who you have already talked to about this, someone who will love your pet just as much as you do.

Don’t just ask one person, ask at least two people just in case your first choice is not able to do it. As you know, caring for a pet can be costly and time consuming, so check in advance before assigning anyone.

Your chosen guardian may be the perfect match but does not have the financial resources to keep a pet. You can include a testamentary trust in your will, which will allow you to set money aside in a trust account for the financial care of your pet.

You can designate your local bank as the trustee and instruct them to continue investing your account and paying a monthly stipend to the guardian for the life of your pet. Upon your pet’s death, you can request that the bank pay the balance in full to the guardian, to a charity, or to someone else.

Contact an estate planning attorney in your state for further informtion on planning for the future care of your beloved pet.

Information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice nor applicable to all situations. For legal assistance, contact an attorney in your state of residence. You can visit Arleen’s website at

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.



Arleen is an award-winning journalist at Epoch Times covering health and fitness issues. Tweet her @agrich6 Email at
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