When planning for your pet’s life after your death, you have a range of options – from making simple, non-legal arrangements or a complex trust, to leaving your pet with an organization dedicated to taking care of pets after an owner’s death.
To make any of these arrangements, you need to find a person or organization that you trust to care for your pet. And that person or organization needs to be willing to do it. So no matter which option you choose, have a candid conversation with your pet’s potential caretaker about how to care for your pet and how expenses will be met.
You cannot use your will to leave money or property to your pet. If you try, that money or your pet may not end up where you want it. However, you can use your will to leave your pet – and money to care for your pet — to a trusted caretaker.
For example, your health is failing and you are concerned about what will happen to your four-year old lab mix, Buddy, when you pass. You talk to your brother, Dan, about taking Buddy after your death. Dan knows and loves Buddy and would like to take her, but he is on a very tight budget and is not sure how he’ll pay for Buddy’s food, vet bills, and occasional boarding.
Ben decides to use his will to leave Buddy to Dan, and he also leaves Dan some extra money for Buddy’s care.
This type of arrangement is legal in that Buddy will legally belong to Dan. However, Dan will have no legal obligation to use the money on Buddy; he will receive the money outright. If he used the money to play the lottery, there would be no legal recourse.
It’s also a good idea to name (and talk to) an alternate caretaker, in case your first choice cannot do the job.