Can I Include My Pets in my Estate Plans?

If you’ve ever thought about what would happen to your pet when you pass away, then you’re not alone — and that’s because nearly 75% of pet owners view their pets as part of their family. So if and when the inevitable happens, you want to ensure they’re taken care of with the proper finances and resources. Here’s what you need to know about including your pet in your estate plan. 

Can You Include Your Pet in Your Will?

A will is a part of your estate plan, a legal document that verifies what you want to do with your assets and who should take them after you die. Estate planning also includes powers of attorney, probates, and trusts. 

If you want to include your pet in your will, there’s good news — because you can! Listing your pet as part of your estate plan is legal and considered a legitimate part of your will. You’ll be able to outline who should care for your pet, how much money you want to put aside for them, and other planned details. 

Can My Pet Receive an Inheritance? 

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, pets are considered property, which means you can’t legally leave them an inheritance. What you can do, however, is leave your inheritance to a trustee with specifications about what to do with that money. You may also “gift” your pet to somebody as part of your will. 

For example, say you have two dogs and want to ensure they’re well-cared for after you die. You can’t leave your dogs any money, so you assign your sister as the trustee and write specific guidelines that say $10,000 should only be used for upcoming vet appointments, toys, food, and anything else, for the remainder of the dogs’ lives.

If you decide to gift your pet, whoever you give them to will be viewed as the new legal owner. 

What Should Be Involved In Your Will’s Pet Clause

  • Name a designated caregiver and pet(s). Be sure to name both the caregiver and your pet’s name in your will. You’ll have to specify that you’re gifting your pet to the named beneficiary, which is the caregiver in this case. 
  • Create a trust for your pet’s financial needs. A trust is an agreement that protects a person’s assets legally. In this situation, you can create a trust for your pet so that the named beneficiary will financially care for them after you die. 
  • Leave instructions for your pet’s care. You know what your pet needs best — which is why you should put together instructions for how to care for them. This might include exercise, medication, dietary needs, veterinary info, and other pertinent information that is essential to your pet’s health and happiness.

We Can Help You Create Your Will and Include Your Pet

At Hickey & Hull Law Partners, we understand your love for your pets because we also have our own. Whether you have questions about how to incorporate your pet into your will or need some guidance on estate planning, we can help you today. Please fill out our online form or call our local offices to speak with someone right away. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.