Can I Put My Pets In My Estate Plan?

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 19, 2019

dog-playingFor many of us, our pets are like another member of the family. Sadly, if you die before your pet does, it's not uncommon for them to be surrendered to an animal shelter as the matters of your estate are settled. This isn’t the outcome many pet owners want. Thankfully, there are a couple of legal avenues open to you that protect your pet and honor your final wishes.

What Can I Do To Make Sure My Pet(s) Is Well Taken Care Of After I Die?

There are two standard solutions:

1. Plan of care in your will

2. Pet trust provision in a living trust

There are some things to consider before you choose the option that you believe is best.

A plan of care in your will only protects your pet after you die. If you want to provide for them should you become disabled, ill, or incapacitated, a different form of estate planning may be necessary.

The pet provision in a living trust is one of your most inclusive options for protecting your pet no matter what happens. You will need to include:

  • Information on a designated caretaker

  • Any disabilities, medical conditions, or special needs of the pets

  • Veterinary records and information

  • Special directives like, all pets must stay together

  • Power of attorney for caretaker; allows them to access funds designated for care

When choosing a caretaker and power of attorney for your pets, please choose someone who is an animal lover and will care for these pets as much as you do.

I Am In The Military And Will Be Deployed Overseas. How Can I Protect The Well-being Of My Pets While I'm Gone?

Yes, this is a prevalent and sensitive issue for military families. Stories of missing and surrendered pets that were given up during a tour of duty have made headlines. To stop this from happening to your pets, get a durable power of attorney.

In this situation, you — the military personnel — are referred to as the “testator.” You can temporarily give a trusted individual the right and funds to care for your pets while you’re abroad. You can also outline specific provisions for their care and home life, similar to the provisions in a pet trust.

When you return home, simply cancel the durable power of attorney and resume the responsibility of caring for your pets. This also works as a safeguard for serious short-term injuries that make pet care temporarily difficult.

Legal pet provisions have only been part of Texas law since 2006. They can be disputed and changed. The attorneys at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas, are estate-planning experts. Contact them with questions today.


Topics: Estate Planning