Estate Planning: Pets
Providing for Your Pets
What will happen to my pets if something happens to me?
Often family members do not want other’s pets and they will take your pets to a shelter, where they are often euthanized (particularly if the pets are older or have health problems).
How can I make sure my pets are taken care of if something happens to me?
Make arrangements with someone you trust and who cares for animals as much as you do to take your pets right away. There are “In case of emergency” wallet cards which specify who is to be contacted about your pets if something happens to you. (Pet Emergency ID and Wallet Cards.) You should have information with your personal papers about each of your pets for any future caretaker. Include information such as veterinarian(s), health records, foods and treats, daily schedule, training, and favorite toys.
You should also include provisions for your pets in your will or any living trust. If you have pets that others may perceive as valuable (such as parrots or exotic animals), it is particularly important to make arrangements in a will or living trust as some family members may be anxious to sell the pets without regard to the suitability of a particular home.
What kind of provisions can be made for my pets in my will?
The simplest method is to give your pet to someone outright along with money for your pets care. There is no assurance that the person will not merely euthanize the animal (and keep the money), so this person should be chosen very carefully.
A trust can be set up for the care of your pet, so that money for its care is given periodically. It is best if the trustee can assure the welfare of the pet.
There are organizations, such as the Oregon Humane Society, which have set up “sanctuaries” to take pets whose owner has died or become disabled. Payment of a fee is required. If you choose this option, you may want to select a well-established organization or look into what arrangements the organization has if it closes down.