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How to Care for Your Pet After You Die

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Although you cannot leave money directly to your pet in your Will, there are other options to make sure that your pet is taken care of after you die. You can leave your pet to someone in your Will or Trust. Choosing a new owner for your pet is one of the most important provisions you can make for your pet.

Legally, your pet is considered as property so you can leave your pet to anyone you want in your Will or Trust. It would be a good idea, though, to speak with the new owner first and let them know your wishes regarding your pet. You want to make sure that they are willing and able to take care of your pet. Because circumstances change, you may want to name an alternate beneficiary for your pet.

It is a big responsibility to care for a pet so you may want to leave the new owner some money to go toward the costs of caring for your pet. While leaving the money and your pet to a new owner is legally enforceable, you cannot stipulate that they use the money toward the care of your pet.

You can make the gift in your Will conditional, but this is generally impractical and difficult to enforce. You could say that the new owner will receive the money as long as he/she continues to provide proper care for your pet until its death. The executor of your estate has the responsibility to enforce the terms of your Will as long as the estate is open with the probate court. Usually, it takes about six months to a year for the probate to get wrapped up. Because it is difficult to enforce this, you want to make sure that you leave your pet to someone you trust to take good care of it.

Keeping your estate plan up to date is very important when caring for your pets. If your pet dies before you, the money you intended for your pet’s care may still go to the beneficiary. To prevent this from happening, you can make the clause conditional so that the money is only given if your pet is still alive. If you don’t make any plans for your pet, then your pet will go to the residuary beneficiary named in your Will. Without a Will, your pet will go to your closest relative, according to the laws of intestacy.


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