Who Will Take Care of Your Pet After Your Death?




For many, pets are part of the family – but have you considered what would happen to your pet if you die or become incapacitated? Because pets don’t receive the same protections under the law as do other dependents, it is up to pet owners to ensure that there is a legally effective plan in place. Without provisions for your pet in your overall estate plan, in the short term, your pet could go days at home without food and water, and could feel distressed, or abandoned. In the long term, your pet could end up with someone you don’t want to have them, or could end up at a shelter where they could be euthanized. Including the following documents in your estate plan can help to ensure that someone has authorization to care for your pet in the short term, and ensure that your wishes are followed with respect to your pet’s long term care in the event of your incapacity or death.

Pet Trust

  • Allows you to name the caretaker for your pet
    • Allows you to name successive caretakers to maintain control over who will care for your pet if the first caretaker becomes unable or unwilling
    • Creates a legal obligation on the named caretaker to care for your pet in the manner you specify
  • Provides assurance that funds you leave to care for your pet will be used by the named caretaker for your pet’s purposes and for no other
  • Can be a separate trust, or a provision within a trust for your overall estate plan

Pet Care Instructions

  • Allows you to provide detailed information to your named caretaker regarding your pet’s needs and tastes without having to update your trust each time there is a change
  • Should be reviewed and updated frequently to ensure that food requirements, medical history, and emergency contacts are current

Power of Attorney for Pet Care

  • Allows you to authorize someone to seek medical care for your pet
  • Allows you to specify to what extent your Pet Care Power of Attorney is able to act on your behalf (e.g. only medical care, or end of life situations as well)
  • Can be used to care for your pet if you become incapacitated, or if you’re away from home

Wallet Card

  • Alerts someone that you have a pet if you are found deceased or incapacitated somewhere other than home, and lists who to contact in that event
  • Ensures that your named caretaker is quickly notified so that your pet is promptly cared for, rather than being home alone for days without food or water

Please feel free to contact Mammel Law at 248-644-6326 to learn how to protect your pet with your estate plan.

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