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Adding Pets to Your Will & Pet Guardians | GoodTrust

Sep-16 2021

Have you ever wondered about what will happen to your pets once you are incapable of taking care of them? If you are like most people, you consider your pets as part of the family. Animals usually have a shorter lifespan than humans, but to ensure they will get what they need once you're gone, it is important to provide for them in your will.

Why do I need to mention my pets in my will?

The mention of pet provisions in a normal will is not common. If you do not appoint a guardian in a will, it is up to your family to decide what happens to them, or they end up in an animal shelter. Your family or friends might not be aware of your wishes, which is why you should appoint a guardian in advance. Because pets are legally seen as property, you can not leave them any money or estate in your will. However, just like the guardianship for a child, you can appoint an appropriate guardian or organization to look after your pets. In addition to a guardian, you can leave specific instructions on how to take care of your pet, in regards to special needs. If you do not assign a guardian in your will, your pet(s) will go to your residuary beneficiary. If you don’t have a will at all, a local court will name an executor for your will. That person will decide who or where your pet will be sent.

What do I need to consider?

Because pets in a will is a special topic, there are some important things to consider. You should carefully think about the needs of your pets, and who is able and willing to cover those needs. Maybe you have someone in mind, but before you make a decision you should consider the following sections. 

1. Who should be the caretakers?

You basically have two different options when it comes to the next caretakers of your pets. You can leave them to your family or friends as a “gift” in your will, or you can name an organization of your choice. When choosing a person, consider the following: - Living circumstances: Depending on the pet, you should consider the space and shelter of the guardian. Do they have enough living space/the right accommodations to provide comfortable shelter for your pet? Are they okay with restricting their current space to provide for your pet? - Allergies: Does your guardian or their close relative have allergies with your pet? Make sure to clarify that information before you assign someone as their guardian. - Time and Effort: If your pet needs a lot of time and effort, like a dog, are they able to fully provide for your pet? Even if they are, are they willing to take time out of their day(s) to do so? - Financial Situation: Supporting a pet is more costly than a lot of people think. Especially if an animal has a higher life expectancy, it will cost the guardian more in the long run. You can leave some of your estate and assets to the guardian for support based on your experience and past monthly or yearly spending. Whatever you leave behind, make sure they are able and willing to spend that on your pet. Maybe you have one or more people in mind that fulfill all of those conditions. However before you appoint a guardian, you should double check and make sure that they are comfortable doing so. You can also leave them a letter with special instructions for your pet.

2. Which shelter / organization should I consider?

If you do not have a willing and able person to take care of your pet, there are several organizations and charities that you can consider.  - 2nd Chance 4 Pets: This organization does not have any shelters, but they specialized on pets being left with no arrangements. They have a newsletter and samples of instruction letters to download for free. - Animal Friends: Animal friends is a shelter with various locations around the US. You can reach out to them or apply for admissions on their website. - Pet Peace of Mind: This nonprofit organization supports pet parents when they are unable to do so alive, as well as after they pass away. One of their promises is to find a new, loving home for every pet. - Best Friends Animal Society: This organization has shelters all across the country. They take care of pets left behind and make sure that they are adopted by capable people. Whether you decide to give your pet to someone you know or a shelter, it is important to do so before you die. Only you know the needs of your pet, and who can truly fulfill them.

3. Adding Pets in a Will

With GoodTrust's free will service, you can assign a guardian to ensure your pets are taking care off. There are two steps in the process:

Step 1: Assigning the Guardian

In the first step of your pet's will, you can add the description and name of all your animals. You can also leave them the same or different guardian, with a description and a designated fund for the pet.

Step 2: Default Surrender

This step is important in case something happens to your designated guardian, or they are not willing to take in your pet. You can either add another person as a guardian, or you can name an organization of your choice to surrender your pet to.

Adding your pets to your will is easy and simple, it doesn't take more than 5 minutes. Your family and friends might not know who is best capable of taking care of your pet, and they certainly don't know about your wishes and preferences. Get your peace of mind for you pet and add them to your will today. Get started now for free!

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