Estate Planning For Pets

None of us like to think about our death and what will happen afterward, but it’s very important to consider estate planning for pets.  Here are points to consider when estate planning:

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Choose Plan That Will Be Best For Your Pet’s Care

Several options are available (including a pet trust) and laws vary from state to state. Talk to an attorney to help you choose the option that will be best for your pets.

estate planning for pets

Select Caregivers

This is an important decision, since whomever you select will be providing care for your pets if you’re seriously injured or pass away.  It may be necessary to select someone for short term care, then a different person for longer term care.

Discuss your intentions with those people you’ve selected to ensure they are willing and able to fulfill the obligation.  Carry a pet ID card with you that lists these caregivers and their contact information in the event you are seriously injured or suddenly die.

Develop Written Plan

Once you’ve decided on the best plan and the caregivers that will be responsible for your pet, it is important to document the plan.

The plan should be very specific, going so far as to list feeding and grooming schedules, veterinarian name and frequency of visits and whether you want them to stay together (if you have more than one pet).

If there is money left in a plan you develop, document how you want that money distributed.  If you want monies to go to a specific charity, for example, be sure to document that charity and the frequency and amount to be donated.

Funding Your Plan

Determine how much money to place in the plan based on expenses for your pet’s ongoing care.  Take into consideration medical expenses, food, toys, supplies and any money you might want to pay your pet’s caregiver.

Let Someone Know Where Plan Is Located

After the pet care document is complete, place in a fireproof storage container with other important documents. Notify at least two people of the location in the event one contact person is unable to assist.

Keep Information Current

If you relocate to a different state, or need to make changes in any aspect of the estate plan, be sure to keep the information current.  As stated above, laws vary by state. It’s important to make any necessary changes to be sure your plan can be executed as you’d planned.


There are several resources available to help with estate planning for pets.  Here are a few:

  • ASPCA;  Their site includes many articles on estate planning for pets, including an FAQ section and a pet trust primer.  Go to
  • 2nd Chance For Pets: This site offers a wide variety of resources discussing estate planning for pets.  Go to
  • Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):  This site has an estate planning guide in downloadable PDF format.  Go to



Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.