Estate Planning with Your Pet

Estate Planning with Your Pet in Mind

Estate planning with your pet in mind may not be the first thing n your thoguhts when thinking about end-of-life plans, but nonetheless, it’s an important consideration for those of us that have furry family members.

Our pets are members of the family, so why not treat them as such? Making pets or companionship animals a part of final wishes is a worthy undertaking.

Unfortunately, not all animals, despite their essential role in their owner’s life, are given the chance to live after their owner’s passing. In fact, one’s death or disability could lead to a pet’s euthanasia. This is what makes it so important to include your fur babies in your estate plan.

By including your pets in your will or trust, you ensure that they will continue to be safe and cared for after you are gone.

What is Pet Protection Planning?

Pet protection planning allows a pet owner to secure an animal’s welfare even after their owner’s death. This is done by finding a caregiver you can entrust your pet with and by allocating funds for your pet’s needs.

The physical and financial protection of your pets is possible through special trusts that you can include in your estate plan. You need nothing more than a good estate lawyer to help make your wishes reality.

Why Do You Need a Pet Protection Plan?

Reality tells us that not everyone, not even family members, are always willing to adopt, raise, and care for your pets as much as you do. There are a lot of animal lovers out there, but not all animal lovers are capable of adopting one.

Some people just can’t share the same affinity towards animals for a lot of reasons. It could be their health, their lifestyle, their finances, the limitations in their residence policy, or sometimes the people they live with. With varying reasons that could make people say no to taking in your pet, they run the risk of being treated as legal property after your passing.

In such cases, the state can decide what happens to your pet, for better or for worse. Being a responsible pet owner, you’ll surely want a pet protection plan to ensure the well-being of your furry friend.

The most that you can do for your pet after your passing is to assure the future caregiver that they will not need to take on any financial burden to provide for the animals’ basic needs. In doing so, you’re already crossing off one of the biggest concerns in adopting a pet: finances.

In your estate plan, you can also include all the details on how your pet should be cared for. This can help filter the possible caregivers for your furry friend. If a candidate can deliver on the responsibilities, that is already a good sign that you can entrust your pet to that person. Also, this can help ease your worries in the event of an untimely death.

Options for Estate Planning with Pets

Knowing the options available for the welfare of your pet can help you decide what works best for your anticipated situation after passing. Although you can always ask for an expert’s input in estate planning and pets, having a basic understanding will give you a good starting point for your decision-making.

There are several ways that you can protect your pet with your estate plan. Here are two of the options that you can discuss with your trusted estate attorney:


One option for a pet protection plan is including them in your will. You simply need to designate a specific guardian or caretaker to be in charge of all matters surrounding your beloved pet, including their health and well-being.

Including funding for your pet in your will can go a long way in securing your pet’s future. Setting aside finances ensures that your chosen guardian can carry out your final wishes as planned.

You can also customize your pet plan as you see fit, even naming another caretaker in the case of the first one’s incapacity. You can determine specific healthcare provisions and a healthcare provider for your pet and can list down any instructions to determine how they should be cared for.

To add your pet to your will, simply ask your estate planning attorney to add in the necessary provisions. An estate planning attorney can help you make the right choice for you, your loved

ones, and your pets.

Since a will cannot guarantee that your chosen guardian won’t abandon your wishes after the estate has been dispensed, another means of pet planning could work for you - a pet trust.


Understanding the benefits of having a pet trust can help you guarantee that even in your absence, your pet will be able to live comfortably under a trustee and a caregiver.

When considering a caregiver, be sure to choose someone you consider reliable and trustworthy. Not everyone who loves animals is responsible enough to take care of one. Be sure not to gloss over this crucial step.

Once you have decided on who the pet caregiver will be, you need to decide on a trustee. That person should be knowledgeable enough to manage properties and other assets that will be affected by your provisions in the estate plan.

The trustee is the person who will ensure that the caregiver dutifully follows your final words, so be sure to choose someone who understands an estate plan and who you are certain can take control of your assets responsibly.

Once you have both a caregiver and a trustee, your final step should be to secure a life insurance policy for the future of your pet after your passing. Placing your trust as the beneficiary of that policy ensures that your pet will get the care you’ve outlined in the estate plan.

With a pet trust, you can also allocate assets to cover the care of your beloved pet within its lifetime, while taking control of your assets and how they will be dispensed once your pet dies.

A trust is a more secure option than a will in securing the health, safety, and happiness of your fur baby thanks to the ability of the trustee to hold the caregiver to their responsibility.

I’m Ready to Help with Your Estate Planning

If you’re worried about what will happen to your pets after you’re gone, give me a call today.

My name is Andrea Aston, and I would like to offer you my years of expertise as a trust and estate lawyer. Together we can create a personalized plan that will leave your fur babies happy, healthy, and well-loved after you pass. After all, do they deserve anything less?

Cementing your wishes in a will or trust is the only fool-proof way to ensure your wishes regarding your pet are followed. Don’t leave someone so important at the mercy of the state or the well-meaning but inexperienced relatives.

In addition to providing for your furry loved ones, I can help you manage your estate plan so your end-of-life wishes are followed with no stress. Call me today at (760) 758-1565 to schedule a consultation. 

Tags: estate planning with your pet,put your pet in your will, providing for your pet after you’re gone, what happens to your pet after you die, pet protection plan


Andrea Aston

Trust and Estate Planning Attorney


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Bonsall, CA 92003


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