Can I Put My Pet in My Will?
You don’t have to be a senior citizen to wonder, who will care for my pets when I die? Making arrangements for pets after death is a legitimate concern for loving pet parents who want peace of mind that the family pet will be properly cared for after they’re gone. Under North Carolina law, dogs, cats, and other animals are considered personal property, meaning you can designate the recipient of your pet in your will just as you would a car or a piece of jewelry.
Here are important things to consider when making arrangements for pets after death from our team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care.
Don’t Keep the Beneficiary a Secret
Asking a friend or relative to pitch in for a week when you’re on vacation is vastly different from asking someone to permanently provide a new home for your pet. Discuss your pet’s needs with the person you’re considering, and make certain your designated person is happy to open their heart and home to your pet.
Discuss Your Needs With a Professional
There is no shortage of online resources for DIY wills, but when it comes to making arrangements for pets after death, it’s best to consult with a professional. A pet provision clause must be properly worded, or it may fail to do what you intended.
Don’t Leave Assets to Your Pet
Here’s where proper wording comes into play again. You can’t leave money or other assets to your pet. But considering how significant the costs of pet ownership can be, you can plan ahead to offset these costs after you’re gone … which brings us to our next point.
Consider a Pet Trust
North Carolina allows for pet trusts—money set aside for the ongoing pet care. Pet trusts give you the ability to be specific about your pet’s needs, including preferred foods, grooming schedule, and routine medical care, while providing the trustee with the financial means to see that your wishes are carried out. The trustee you name in your pet trust does not have to be the same person you named as the beneficiary of your pet.
Create a Plan B
In the event that your designated beneficiary cannot care for your pet after you’re gone, name a substitute beneficiary. Likewise, name a successor trustee for the pet trust.
If you are unable to designate someone you know to care for your pet, contact local animal charities. Some may provide long-term care of pets of deceased owners or place your pet in a caring home after you’re gone.
We talk a lot about pet loss, but it’s also important to plan for your pet’s care in case something should happen to you. Please contact us if you have questions about including your pet in your will.