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Provisions for Pets in Wills

June 6, 2013

Animal lovers that consider pets part of their family should make arrangements for them while they are able.  Most people won’t and cannot do what Leona Helmsley did (leaving over $10 million to her dog), but you can make suitable and affordable provisions for your pets.


You can fund pet trusts using a living trus, or through your will.  In either event, you will set aside some money to provide for their continued care in event of your death or disability.


Pet trusts are not much different from other types of trusts.  The person establishing the trust appoints a trustee to manage the funds; and designates a caregiver who will receive the funds as needed from the trustee.  When the last surviving pet dies, the remaining funds will be distributed as specified in the trust.  Many states have pet trust laws including New Jersey and New York, but they are different and, as with establishing all trusts, you must speak with a knowledgeable attorney before you decide how to proceed.


This is not much different from the process for choosing a guardian for minor children.  Except in cases of very large funding in the trust, I suggest considering making the trustee and caregiver the same person.


An alternative is a pet retirement home or sanctuary.  This is something you can find out about from your vet.  In many cases, this will require more funding than with a pet trust and your choice of the residuary beneficiary of the remaining funds might be restricted to the sponsor of the sanctuary.



Reprinted from Getting Your Affairs in Order by Edward Mendlowitz, CPA ©2012.  Available for sale at and .

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Nagler permalink
    June 6, 2013 1:33 pm

    I am going to leave my money to my best pet ( the wild kingdom)

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