What Happens To Your Pet After You Die?

Edited detail of "Prochainement, Tournée du Chat Noir de Rodolphe Salis" by Th Steinlen from Van Gogh Museum via Wikimedia Commons

Artist's rendition of Boots, the cat. (j/k)

Do you have the care of your beloved pet in your estate plan?  This Chicago resident did, but you may want to do things a little differently.  From “Though there was a will, Fifth Third found a way to save Boots” by Becky Yerak of the Chicago Tribune:

“Boots, an 11-year-old cat from Berwyn [IL], has narrowly avoided using up the last of her nine lives, thanks to trust officers at Fifth Third Bank who resisted carrying out a death sentence stipulated in the will of the cat’s owner.”

The article goes on to talk about the owner’s will, which instructed that the cat be put down, and a happy ending for Boots, who now has a home at a no-kill shelter.  This brings up an important question: do you have a plan in place for the care of your pets after your death?

It may be as simple as a conversation with trusted family, or as complicated as setting up a trust and funding it.  Either way, make sure you take the time to think about, and then implement a plan to take care of your pets.

In my case, I just talked to my family.  My sister or Mom will take the dog, and since they’re my heirs, I know they’ll have the money to care for my dog.  But, what about your case?  Do you have relatives or friends who will take in your pet?  Did you provide a fund for the animal’s care?  Most importantly, do you have their agreement that they’ll take in your pet?  If not, you’ll want to discuss something more formal with your financial planner or estate attorney.

Don’t forget, many pets may outlive you – parrots and tortoises regularly live longer than humans and both horses and dogs can live into their late twenties and even early thirties.  Be mindful of this when you’re working out your pet estate plan.  Check out this post for some more tidbits about some other things to think about when you’re planning your estate.

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