A whopping 70% of American households have pets¹, and ensuring they are taken care of is generally a top priority. Do you know what would happen to your pets if you passed away?

Creating a plan for their care as part of your estate planning can give you important peace of mind. Making assumptions can lead to chaos for your furry friends after you pass away. Instead, take a look at these tips for including your pets in your estate plan.

Set Up A Pet Trust

As fun as it would be to leave all of your belongings and property to your pet, pets are generally considered a type of property and cannot own property themselves.

If you have assets that you want to be committed to the care of your pets, consider setting up a pet trust. This is an entity you fund with the sole purpose of providing for your pet after you’re gone. Creating a trust is a legal process, it is advisable to work with a professional to ensure nothing is missed. You’ll identify the pets that are cared for, the type of care, the caregiver, and the trustee who distributes the trust’s assets and holds the caregiver responsible.

The caregiver cannot transfer ownership of the pet to anyone else and must care for the pet as specified in the trust. The trustee can be a single individual, or if the trust is large, a professional organization.

A trust can help you rest easy that your pets will be cared for properly if you pass away.

Include a Pet Clause in Your Will

Another way to provide for your pets is to use your will to give them to a person you trust after you pass away. You may want to add a secondary guardian in case the initial choice is unable or unwilling to care for your pet.

Being specific if essential. naming both the animal and the person who will receive it. You can also leave money and property to the new guardian for them to use in caring for your pet. However, they aren’t legally required to use the assets in that way, which is why you should choose someone you trust.

Including a pet clause is a great way to ensure your pets go to a responsible party after you pass, instead of being abandoned or taken to a shelter.

Be Sure to Update Your Arrangements Regularly

As you move through your life, your pets, their needs, and your assets are likely to change several times. It’s a good idea to revisit your pet arrangements regularly so that they are up-to-date in case something happens.

Also, make sure that anyone named in your will or pet trust is aware of your updates and is still on board with the arrangement. That way, there will be no surprises for them or your furry friends.

Is Your Pet Protected in Your Will?

Planning for pets is as important to many people as planning for the important individuals in their life. By creating a pet trust or a pet clause in your will, you can have the peace of mind that your pet will be well cared for if anything happens to you.

If you’d like help creating a plan to protect your pets, consider meeting with a financial professional. They can help you make arrangements so your pets are cared for.

¹American Pet Products Association. (2021). National Pet Owners Survey. Retrieved from https://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp