What Happens to Your Pets When You’re Gone?

Life Events

They say that all dogs go to heaven, but what happens when a dog's owner passes on and leaves a furry friend behind? Pets are often beloved family members, but many people forget their animal companions when planning for end of life. If you fail to provide for your pets, they may be sent to a shelter if you die. While this could introduce your pet to a new family, it's more likely they will meet the same fate as hundreds of thousands of other pets that outlive their owners each year. To avoid this, consider the following options to care for your pet long after you're gone:

Where there's a will...

Write your pets into your will, and establish who will act as the animal's primary caregiver. This simple step will ensure that your pet eventually ends up with the right person, but a will should only be part of a larger plan for the animal's future.

Your pet could remain uncared until the will is executed, so make sure to talk to a trusted friend or family member ahead of time to take Fluffy or Fido for the short-term if something unexpected happens. Additionally, a will may not provide the pet's new owner with the money needed to support the animal. Luckily, owners can use a pet trust to solve these issues.

There's a way

Pet trusts used to be relatively rare, but now most states honor pet trust agreements, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides a list of each state's regulations.

A pet trust not only ensures the pet is given to the correct person, but pays some portion of the pet owner's estate to the new owner on a regular basis for a specified amount of time. This makes it easier for the new owner, or "trustee," to provide for the animal without taking on a new financial burden.

If you are concerned about your pet's well-being in the event of your death, you can sit down with your lawyer and draw up a pet trust that could be funded with proceeds from a life insurance policy. While a provision in your will can provide some security for an animal, a trust is the most foolproof way to ensure the animal's life-long happiness.

Which pet can reduce anxiety? See the full Health Benefits of Having a Pet infographic to find out!

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