Who Gets The Dog? Handling Pets During Estate Planning

Posted on: 13 September 2019

In many respects, your dog is like a member of the family. Therefore, being concerned about who will take care of its needs when something happens to you is a natural concern. Even though pets are deemed as property, it does not mean you cannot properly plan for your dog to have a good life once you are gone. Here are a few steps to take during your estate planning process so you can make sure your pooch is not left behind without a good owner. 

Decide Who Can Provide Your Dog the Best Life After You

Picking a caretaker for your pet can be a major undertaking, especially if your pet has special needs or if you don't have a lot of close family members or friends who like dogs. Several things should be done before settling on a particular person, including: 

  • Talking to those you are considering to see if they are okay with taking ownership of your dog
  • Considering who would be able to financially provide for your dog
  • Looking at who the dog would be the most comfortable with in your absence

It is also not a bad idea to pick a secondary owner for your dog just in case something happens to your first choice or something changes and they cannot care for your dog when you pass away.

Consider Leaving Funds to the Caretaker Who Gets Your Pet 

Even though you can't directly leave money to your dog, what you can do is set up a sort of trust for the caretaker to use to provide care for the dog. Unfortunately, you can't necessarily control how the money can be used upon your passing; the heir can spend the funds however they want, legally speaking. So make sure the individual you pick to leave money to is someone you feel would be responsible enough to use the money for the intended purpose. 

Make Alternative Arrangements if Necessary 

Many pet owners run into the problem of not having someone who would be willing or able to take their pet. If this is your situation, there are other options to consider. For example, some states have pet legacy programs in which pets are given to loving and welcoming caregivers who can provide that pet with the best life possible when they lose their owner. You can find out about these programs through your local ASPCA group.