Should You Put Your Pet In Your Will?

gray cat in a sunny blooming garden

You likely have heard news stories of dogs and other animals receiving millions of dollars left to them in a will from their generous owners. While not everyone can leave their pet a millionaire, there are good reasons to provide legal instructions and provisions for your pets. If you are like most people with pets, you consider them as part of your family. Like any dependent, consider adding your dog, cat, bird, reptile or other pet to your will to ensure they receive the care they deserve after you are gone.

Provisions for pets within a will are different than leaving money to a human. Pets are not allowed to own property or money – they are considered property themselves. All the states have different laws regarding how pets can be added to wills, but no state allows pets to own a bank account or property. Instead, the pet is left as property to a beneficiary, as well as any money you want to provide for their care.

Choosing a Pet Beneficiary

If you are no longer alive, you want someone you can trust to care for your pet. This can be a difficult decision as you want someone who will provide the level of care you want for your pet. It is best to identify more than one possible person that could care for your animal in case your first choice cannot fulfill the duty. It would be best if you discussed this possibility with those who may be willing to care for your pet before adding this provision to your will.

The second aspect to consider is money for your pet’s care. Since animals cannot own money, the monetary benefit would go to the pet beneficiary. These funds can be designated for providing food, shelter and medical care for your pet. However, ensuring that the beneficiary uses the money for these purposes can be difficult, which is why you should choose someone trustworthy.

Creating a Trust for Your Pet

Another option available is creating a trust for your pet. This can be a valuable tool as it allows your trustee to access funds and ensure your pet receives care immediately after your death. In Georgia, a pet trust law was enacted in 2010, allowing residents to add pets to their will and create separate trusts for their care. This method allows for more provisions regarding your pet’s care.

Estate Lawyers in Georgia

If you want to ensure your pet is well cared for after you die, there are options to leave them in your will. However, this can be a complicated process, and you may need to make changes to your will or trust as you and your pets get older. For legal advice on estate planning for your pet, contact our team at Turner Law. We can advise you on the best ways to create provisions for your pet or pets in your will. Contact our law office in Atlanta, GA, to schedule an estate planning consultation.

Posted on the behalf of Turner Law, LLC