How to Prepare a Last Will & Testament Including Dogs

By Marie Murdock

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one National Guard officer estimated that 30 to 40 percent of people refused to evacuate because they could not take their pets with them. Pets have become such an important part of their owners’ lives that they are often as important as any child or grandchild. During Katrina, people did not want to abandon their dogs to the mercy of a hurricane without making sure they were fed and sheltered; similarly, many pet owners do not want to leave this life without a will providing that same care for their pets.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one National Guard officer estimated that 30 to 40 percent of people refused to evacuate because they could not take their pets with them. Pets have become such an important part of their owners’ lives that they are often as important as any child or grandchild. During Katrina, people did not want to abandon their dogs to the mercy of a hurricane without making sure they were fed and sheltered; similarly, many pet owners do not want to leave this life without a will providing that same care for their pets.

Step 1

Establish a trust in your will for the benefit of your dog. A relative, friend, veterinarian or veterinarian’s assistant may agree to act as trustee of any testamentary trust -- a trust established in your will -- for the benefit of your dog. You will need to provide enough money in the trust to cover your dog’s needs during the remainder of his lifetime.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Designate a caregiver for the dog in your will in the event your assets aren’t sufficient to establish a trust. Pets are considered personal property, so you would basically be gifting your pet to the caregiver. You may direct that a portion of your assets be devised directly to the caregiver to cover vet bills, medications, his favorite food, toys and any necessary boarding costs.

Step 3

Include a provision in your will requiring regular veterinary check-ups and someone to check on the dog's health and quality of care periodically. A greedy caregiver who cares more about your bequest than the health of your pet may be charged with a case of animal cruelty.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Pets & Wills

References

Resources

Related articles

Advantages of Trust Funds for Children

Establishing a trust fund for your minor children is a way of passing money to them that differs from handing them a gift of money during your life -- or leaving them the money outright in your will. Trust funds enable you to have greater control over how and when the money is disbursed to your child -- and it may also save on taxes and probate costs.

How to Start a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Rescue

Starting a 501(c)(3) rescue is a great opportunity to help animals in need, saving them from kill shelters and getting them connected with people who want to adopt them into forever homes. After you've checked with other animal shelters in your area to make sure you're not duplicating efforts, you'll be ready to begin a series of state and federal filings that will keep your animal shelter tax-free.

Guidelines for Writing a Will

Your will is a document that explains how your property should be handled after your death. Preparing your will can be a complicated process, especially if you have children or significant assets. Following guidelines or checklists for preparing a will may help you and your attorney ensure that nothing is left out and that your instructions are clear.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Can Pets Inherit in Wills?

The love you feel for your cherished dog or cat may be just as strong as the love you feel for another human being. The ...

How to Create a Will With Your Dogs

Making out a will allows you to designate where you want your assets to go when you die. A will also allows you to ...

Does a Beneficiary Get Money to Take Care of the Animals of the Deceased?

Money and other property inherited under a will often comes with no strings attached. On occasion, however, the ...

Things to Think About When Writing a Will

While writing a will is an important part of planning for your eventual death, many people neglect this responsibility. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED