The statistics of homeless animals is getting worse and worse every year. Although it depends on many factors, still there are certain risks for pets becoming homeless not only because of irresponsible owners but because their owners pass away.
What happens to pets when their owners die? Of course, the first thought that may come across your mind is that you have relatives, friends, and members of your family who will certainly take care of them. But what if it’s just your hopes, which are not necessarily to be the truth? What if, for example, a dog owner dies and he/she has no one to take care of after the animal?
Here are some quick options:
- get in touch with special charitable programs, which can help to find a new home for your pet
- make a pet trust with money
- leave your animal to someone you can trust, for example, a person from your will, it’s better as well to leave some money.
Choose a person who takes care of animals
The easiest way for those who have a trustworthy person around or an already written will. If you want to solve your problem in such a way, first of all, talk to the chosen person (a relative, a friend, a family member) and ask if they really agree and prepare to take responsibility.
You may include it in your will (name a beneficiary for your animal), but remember that the new owner won’t be legally obliged to care for your animal (though if you trust them, it shouldn’t be a question).
If you cannot leave your pet to a friend or family member, the other option is to get a pet sitter or to leave the detailed instructions to your relatives if they live far away.
Detail everything in your last will
If you choose to write your last will, include information about your pet. Don’t worry if you already have the will – you may just add a codicil. But there is something you should know about how to do it correctly:
- keep in mind that you cannot leave money directly for your animal, because legally they are ”property”, so it’s better to appoint a guardian for your pet whom you can leave your money for pet’s needs. You may as well set up a discretionary trust (a pet trust with a new owner as a trustee), in such a case a trustee will have to follow all your instructions and spend money respectively
- try not to name your pets but to refer in general, ex. “cat”, “dog”. The reason is that you may have new animals between writing this and the time of passing away, so you won’t need to update your file
- you can also add a “letter of wishes” with information on how to take care of the animal, feeding, surgeries, vet, etc.
I live alone with my dog, what happens if I die?
If you don’t find a person that takes care of animals, one more option is an animal shelter. There are different shelters, so choose wisely: whether the shelter will provide a new home for your pet or will take care of them as long as they’re alive. Make sure that you give your pet to a no-kill shelter if it’s important for you to be sure that your animal will live.
Otherwise, there is an option to write a provision in your will that you don’t want your animal to live without you. The probate court may find the provision to be invalid though, as long as the animal isn’t old and ill and it’s possible to find a new home for them. Technically it’s an order to destroy your property, and the public policy says there is no need to destroy valuable property. Make sure you explain everything before your death, even such controversial issues.
List of Specialized Charities:
The RSPCA’s Home for Life scheme. This charity will always be ready to take responsibility for your pet when you die and will do whatever it takes to find a new and loving home. They also take care of exotic animals.
The Dogs Trust Canine Care Card gives a charity opportunity to find a new home for pets when an owner dies. If it’s not possible, the charity says it will never abandon healthy unwanted dogs and will watch over them for the lifetime.
When you pass away, The Cats Protection League Cat Guardians Card takes your pet to one of the rehoming centers. They will look for a new owner and never put a healthy pet to sleep.
The Cinnamon Trust has a great number of volunteers helping ill and elderly people to walk their pets and take care of them. If the owners happen to be taken into hospital, they continue to help their animals. There is an opportunity to set up a trust and become a service user here.
Battersea’s Forever Loved Service helps animals until they find a new home.
The Blue Cross Pets into Care Scheme rehomes even horses.
Last will and testament forms by State:
- Last Will and Testament Arizona
- Last Will and Testament California
- Last Will and Testament Colorado
- Last Will and Testament Florida
- Last Will and Testament Georgia
- Last Will and Testament Illinois
- Last Will and Testament Maryland
- Last Will and Testament Michigan
- Last Will and Testament Minnesota
- Last Will and Testament New Jersey
- Last Will and Testament New York
- Last Will and Testament North Carolina
- Last Will and Testament Ohio
- Last Will and Testament Oregon
- Last Will and Testament Pennsylvania
- Last Will and Testament South Carolina
- Last Will and Testament Tennessee
- Last Will and Testament Texas
- Last Will and Testament Virginia
- Last Will and Testament Washington
- Last Will and Testament Wisconsin