Why You Should Never Put Your Pet in Your Will

Your pet’s needs cannot wait months for your will to go through probate

We love our pets. They are family members who give us unconditional love. We have a deep bond with them. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that about 500,000 pets are euthanized every year because their pet parents did not have a written plan for their care. Some people think including care for a pet in their will can avoid this tragedy, but unfortunately your will is not the right place to specify how to care for your pet and to leave financial resources to ensure proper care.

In a will your pet will be treated as personal property to be distributed. You cannot leave property or money to anything the law considers to be property. Your will must go through probate court and it may take more time than you think for the probate process especially if someone contests any provision of your will. This delay could leave your pet without appropriate care for months. Further, a will only takes effect when you die and does not address your pet’s care needs if you become incapacitated.

Plan for your pet’s care in case something happens to you

A pet care plan ensures your loved pet is well cared for if you die, move to a nursing home or other care facility, become incapacitated or need emergency housing due to a natural disaster. Your written pet care action plan should include:

  • Designation of at least two people who agree to be responsible for your pet if something happens to you. These people will need access to your home. Depending on your plan, you can choose people to be short-term, long-term or permanent pet caregivers.
  • Care and feeding instructions for each pet. Be detailed and comprehensive. Assume your caregiver does not know anything about your pet’s needs.
  • A photo and identifying information (e.g. RFID chip, tattoos, etc.).
  • Name and contact information for your veterinarian.
  • Final care plans for when your pet dies including cremation or burial.
  • Pet trust to provide a sum of money that will be used to care for your pet. Pet trusts can designate multiple pet caregivers, a pet trustee and a pet care panel. They are designed to provide a lifetime of care for your pet with checks and balances.For more information on Pet Trusts, visit www.AnimalCareTrustUSA.org.

An experienced Florida estate planning and animal law attorney can help you create the documents you need to protect your pets if you die or become incapacitated.

Personalized pet care planning and estate planning services

Attorney Peggy R. Hoyt is a pet parent and animal advocate who concentrates a portion of her practice to animal law related to estate planning for pets. Peggy is the author of All My Children Wear Fur Coats – How to Leave a Legacy for Your Pet and has been helping Central Florida residents provide for and protect their pets for more than 25 years. She hosts a weekly radio podcast at Mixlr.com/All-My-Children-Wear-Fur-Coats every Mondays at 3 pm EST. She is the founder of Animal Care Trust USA, Inc, a not for profit organization with one goal – to keep loved pets in loving homes.Call us today at (407) 977-8080, or contact us online to speak with an experienced and board certified estate planning attorney who loves pets.

Peggy R. Hoyt - The Law Offices Of Hoyt & Bryan
About the Author: Peggy Hoyt
Peggy R. Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy counselling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real estate transactions and animal law.