For Your Petís Future
a beloved pet has ended up as a homeless
animal in a shelter when the petís owner
died and no provisions had been made for
someone else to care for the animal. Surely that animalís human, who had loved him dearly, would
not have wanted that fate for his animal,
but without any specific written
instructions or plans, the animalís future
was left in the hands of people who were
less caring, too overburdened and/or unable
to care for the animal.
as you provide for and anticipate the needs
for your pet while you are alive, it is
important that you ensure that the excellent
care that you want for your pet continues if
These plans should be carefully set
out in writing with the help of a lawyer
with special knowledge about wills, trusts,
and powers of attorney.
You should also discuss your plans
with another person close to you, so that,
should anything happen to you, there would
be no delay in continuing care for your pet.
in mind that wills, trusts, and powers of
attorney are only legal devices.
They cannot, by themselves, guarantee
that your pets are cared for.
We recommend that you choose a
guardian(s) for your pet and discuss with
them what you would like them to do
regarding your pet if you should die.
Once you have chosen someone to
oversee the care of your pet in the event of
your death or disability, you should ensure
that the legal documents that you set up
will give the person(s) that you have chosen
the legal ability and means to carry out
information in this section is not intended
to be legal advise.
We recommend that you speak to an
attorney regarding planning for your petís
future without you.
The information in this section is
meant merely to serve as some guidelines and
material for thought as you plan for the
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
has some excellent web pages on providing
for your petís future without you.
They can be found at http://www.hsus.org.ace/11834.
The following information is taken
from the HSUS web pages.
your lawyer will help you decide what type
of document best suits your needs, you
should be aware of some drawbacks to wills.
For example, a will takes effect only
upon your death and it will not be probated
and formally recognized by a court for days,
weeks, or even months after your death.
Whatís more, if legal disputes
arise, the final settlement of your property
may be prolonged even longer.
In this case, even determining the
rightful new owner of your pet can get
In other words, with a will it may
take a long time before your instructions
regarding your petís long-term care can be
does not mean that you should not include a
provision in your will that provides for
It just means that you should explore
creating additional documents that
compensate for the limitations of the will.
a will, a trust can provide for your pet
immediately and can apply not only if you
die, but also if you become ill or
When you create a trust for your pet,
you set aside money to be used for his care
and you specify a trustee to control the
trust created separately from your will
carries certain benefits.
The trust can be written to exclude
certain assets from the probate process so
that funds are more readily available to
care for your pet.
Additionally, it can be structured to
provide for your pet even if you are
disabled for long periods of time.
Powers of Attorney
of Attorney, which authorize someone else to
conduct some or all of your affairs for you
while you are alive, have become a standard
Such documents can be written to take
effect upon your physical or mental
incapacity and to continue in effect after
you become incapacitated.
Provisions can be inserted in powers
of attorney authorizing your
attorney-in-fact Ė the person designated
to handle your affairs Ė to take care of
your pets, expend money to do so, and even
to place your pets with permanent caregivers
Coordinating your wills, trusts and/or powers of attorney
are many types of wills, trusts, and powers
of attorney; determining which is/are best
for you and your pet depends on your
situations and needs.
It is important to seek the advice of
an attorney who both understands your desire
to provide for your pet and can help you
create a will and/or trusts and possibly a
power of attorney that best provides for
and your attorney also need to make sure
that a trust for the benefit of one or more
specific animals is valid and enforceable in
Even if your state law recognizes the
validity of such trusts, keep in mind that
tying up a substantial amount of money or
property in a trust for an animalís
benefit may prove to be controversial from
the point of view of a relative or other
you and your lawyer create a will, a trust,
or both, leave copies with the person
youíve chosen to be executor of your
estate as well as with the petís
designated caregiver so that he or she can
look after your pet immediately.
(The executor and the caregiver may
or may not be the same person.)
Also, make sure that the caregiver
also has copies of your petís veterinary
records and/or your veterinarianís name