Provide for your pet in your will or trust

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals”. Winston Churchill

If you have ever loved a pet, you understand the question that many of my clients ask: when I pass away, who will care for my pet? Pets offer companionship and bring joy into our lives, and in return we want to make sure they go to a good home.

There are several options for the placing of pets, including family members, friends and adoption programs with organizations like the Idaho Humane Society. If you plan to leave your pet with an individual, you should discuss with the prospective caretaker if they are willing to care for your pet. If they accept, you can leave your pet in your Will to that person. You may also want to leave some money or other pet care items to that person, asking the person to use the money and items to care for your pet. Your request gives guidance to the caretaker, but is nonbinding. You cannot leave money or other property directly to an animal.

A more complex and expensive method to provide for your pet is to set up a Pet Trust. Idaho Code § 15-7-601 allows for a Trust to be set up for a pet. Funds can be put into the Trust with instructions that are binding, as to how the money is to be used and how your pet is to be cared for.

If providing for your pet’s future when you are gone is important to you, consider leaving specific instructions in your Will concerning with whom you want your pet placed. This brings peace of mind, knowing your pet will be in a good home.

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.