rottweiler on owners lap

Estate planning encompasses many important factors that illustrate what you want to have happen to your property once you are deceased. This careful decision making and planning requires great forethought and assistance from an estate planner, lawyer, or other trusted advisor.

Obviously, if you have dependents and loved ones, you will want to include them in your will, but what about your pet companions?

Since our pets depend on us totally for their good care, they, too, need to be included in our end of life plans. This is why the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants to express how important putting your pet in your will is, as well as giving you some helpful suggestions for the steps to take.

5 Good Reasons for Putting Your Pet in Your Will

While we consider them family, pets are still listed as property under the law. This is why they are oftentimes shuffled around after a pet owner has passed away, without a firm understanding of the wishes of the owner. It can be disastrous and heartbreaking for a pet to first lose their owner, then become displaced. 

Here are some important things to remember when considering adding your sweet four-legged friend in your will.

  1. Without it, they can end up in an animal shelter, or worse –  Many pets whose owners have died, end up at local shelters or on the streets. Thousands of pets are relocated to shelters each year when there is no one to claim them as a guardian. These pets are often elderly themselves, which puts them at high risk of eathanasia. A will will appoint a rightful new guardian for your pet, should you pass away before them.
  2. Planning ahead leaves your pet in better hands – When you outline exactly what you want for your pet in your will, this takes the guesswork out for grieving family members. No one knows the needs of your pet like you, so no one can cover the many things you’d want for your dear companion without your specific instructions.
  3. You alleviate the decision from grieving loved ones – When people experience loss, it is much harder to make informed decisions, especially when they have to do so quickly. The guilt and worry associated with how to best take care of a deceased loved one’s pet can be alleviated through the use of a will. When you put your pet in a trust or will, your friends and family don’t have to experience the additional hardship of choosing how to take care of your best friend.
  4. It cannot be disputed – Once you create a legal last will and testament, including your fur friend, it can’t be disputed by anyone who may seek a different solution for your pet. You have the guarantee that your pet will be well taken care of in the manner you outlined. Simply relying on a verbal agreement, while heartfelt, doesn’t give you the legal authority of matters posthumously.
  5. If you already have a will, it’s easy to add your pet to it – Since most of us, if not all of us, should have a last will and testament, there’s no reason why adding your pet should be a problem. The basic work has already been done in creating a legal document, so it won’t be difficult to add a few paragraphs for pet’s guardianship and basic care needs.

Some Basic Information About Pets in Your Will

As with any legal documentation, consulting an attorney is advisable. They can guide you on whether you need a simple will or a trust for your pet. A trust takes things a step further by allowing you to put away property and money in trust for your pet. 

Clearly identify one or two people you’d like to take care of your pet when you have passed. Sit down and discuss this with them and allow them to be a part of the will or estate planning process with you, so that everyone is on the same page.

If hiring a lawyer isn’t possible, you can create your own will by using affordable software or online guides to secure your legal last will and testament. Finances shouldn’t stop you from protecting your pet. There are a number of affordable options if you are willing to do the work yourself.

If you would like more information on including your pet in your will, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us.