You cannot leave money to pets nor can they continue to thrive on their own. Thus, the best option is to plan your estate properly so that you can leave your pet to a trusted person or organization like a local sanctuary, shelter, or rescue group.
Aside from being trustworthy, that person or organization needs to have the capacity to take care of your pet. Since they will be responsible for providing proper nutrition, shelter, exercise, vet care, and companionship, you should consider leaving resources for them to effectively carry out these responsibilities and make arrangements in advance that they agree to assume that responsibility.
Under the law, pets are seen as property and are part of the owner’s estate. Thus, the owner may include in his will to whom the pet would be gifted. In your estate, you need to be specific in naming the pet and the guardian. For the pet, make sure to indicate the breed. For the guardian, include the full name, address, and contact information. If you have more than one pet, you need to decide whether they all go to one guardian or different guardians for each pet.
Setting up a pet trust is preferred over plain inclusion in the will, especially since the latter will not guarantee that your pets will be provided with the sufficient care that they need. If you are planning to do this, seek the help of a legal counsel considering that estate planning can vary from state to state.
Through the pet trust, you can specifically identify your pet’s would-be caregiver. Include successors in case your first choice for caregiver is not available when the need arises. Then, make sure to include all of your wishes for your pet in the trust agreement. Appoint a trustee to manage the trust that is a different person from the caregiver. The trust will also require you to name a beneficiary to receive the remaining funds in the trust should your pet pass.
Consider carefully how much to invest in the trust. You want to leave enough to properly care for the pet at your highest standards. Your pet will not directly own the fund but will only benefit from the money that you leave behind and trusts may be challenged in court by family members.
When people die without plans for their pets, or those plans fall through due to whatever reason, rescues must answer the call to save lives. Recently, we rescued a dog named Rikki whose owner died and the remaining family was not able to care for Rikki.
Such was also the case of sisters Lady and Sioux, who both needed a home after their owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Shy Wolf reached out to former adopters to find emergency placement for the sisters.
We can only continue to answer these calls to save lives through the support of our donors. Ongoing operational support and planned giving to the sanctuary will ensure that we are here and able to assist when needed.
Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education and Experience Center was founded in 1993. In January 2001, Shy Wolf was formalized as a nonprofit organization with the goal of educating people about captive-bred exotic animal rescue in addition to helping more animals in need.
For more information, visit ShyWolfSanctuary.org.