Few people enjoy thinking about their death or the possibility of incapacitation to the point of being unable to live productive, even sentient, lives. However, all of us will die some day and some of us may be in such poor health that we can no longer care for our companion animals. While animals are still considered property under the law, today, we have the ability to create pet trusts for our favored friends. A pet trust typically appoints a caretaker/trustee to care for our animals and generally includes a specific sum of money designated by the owner for that care. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have laws that support the creation of pet trusts.
By creating a pet trust, pet owners have some control over what happens to their companions should the owners become incapacitated or die. Otherwise, if we assume our parents, spouse, or other relative or friend is going to take care of Fido or Fluffy and they can’t afford to do so, then what happens to Fido or Fluffy? Ask any animal shelter worker; they’ll tell you what happens. The companion animal is given up to a shelter where he or she may be adopted or euthanized. Not a happy ending for a companion who had been cared for and loved but who has lost his or her home through no fault on the animal’s part.
Some people may not have individuals in their lives who can care for their animals. They can, however, will their animals to a sanctuary. Typically, such sanctuaries require a fixed donation for the lifetime care of the animal. Owners must complete paperwork agreeing to certain terms and may have to include wording in their will stating their intent to give the sanctuary money in exchange for caring for the animal.
When you think about it, shouldn’t we be as protective of our animals as we are of our other family members? Have you written up your will? Have you included your animals?