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.

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.

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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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
What Living Arrangements Are Best for Teenagers in a Joint Custody?



Related articles

What Kind of Questions Does the Court Ask in Custody Battles?

Custody is one of the murkiest areas of law. It offers few absolute guidelines a judge must follow. All states base custody on the best interests of the children, but most have not set definitive criteria as to what those best interests might be. Often, it’s left up to a judge to interpret the nuances of each family situation.

Pets & Wills

For many people, particularly the elderly, it makes sense to consider what may happen to a beloved pet in the event of their death. Although owners cannot leave their estate to their pets in a will, owners can use provisions in their will to ensure their pets are cared for. Owners need to take several factors into consideration when planning on including a pet in their will.

Can You Share Custody Without Child Support?

Child support pays for the roof over your children's heads, the clothing they wear, the food they eat, and the heat that keeps them warm at night. If you're asking the court for shared or joint physical custody as part of your divorce, you and your spouse will each have your children roughly 50 percent of the time, and you'll provide directly for these costs when they're in your care. Often -- but not always, this eliminates the child support provisions in your decree.

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

Related articles

Education for Grandchildren in a Testamentary Trust

When grandparents begin the estate planning process, they may first think of leaving money to their grandchild in a ...

The Rights & Responsibilities of a Temporary Guardian in Arkansas

A temporary guardian is a person appointed by the court to play the legal role of a child's parent, when parents are ...

Laws Governing Child Custody in South Carolina

Divorcing spouses in South Carolina who agree on how to split custody of their child are free to come up with their own ...

Disabled Parents' Rights in Custody Battles

Child custody can become one of the most hotly contested issues in a couple's breakup. While the court's job in a child ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED