Pet Trusts

Make sure your fur family is part of your estate plans.

Our pets are part of our family and being sure they’re part of your estate planning is essential to their well-being should they outlive you. If you fail to plan for what happens if you do predecease your pet, it could leave them in a difficult situation.

If you leave plans for your pet in your will, it’s a great step, but wills do not take effect in the event of disability and upon death, they do take time to be probated leaving your pet in limbo.

You should always ensure your pet is prepared for an emergency. Events such as natural disasters forcing you to quickly evacuate your home, an unexpected hospitalization or an untimely death should all be prepared for with your pet in mind.

In all cases, a friend or family member should be pre-designated as a caregiver for your pet. You should also go through the below emergency plan now and ensure that each item is checked off and that you are prepared.

Your Pet’s Emergency Plan

  • Name and contact information for someone who can care for your pet
  • Name and contact information for your back-up in case your go-to gets sick
  • At least two weeks’ worth of food and pet supplies (toys, bowls, treats)
  • Accessible pet crate or carrier
  • Updated vaccination records
  • Pet is wearing a collar and ID tag at all times
  • Your contact information is updated with your pet’s microchip company
  • You have at least two weeks of medications in hand and a document that lists medications and dosages
  • Your pet’s regular veterinary clinic and an emergency veterinarian’s contact information
  • Daily care instructions including:
    • How often and what quantity of food does your pet eat?
    • Where do they sleep at night?
    • Do they go somewhere specific when you leave?
    • Do they need specific medication at a certain time each day?
    • How often do they need to go outside to use the bathroom?
    • Do they have specific grooming needs?
    • Are there things your pet is scared of?
    • Does your pet get along with other pets or humans?
    • Are there things your pet really likes?

Pet Trusts

More formal arrangements can make sure that pets are cared for in the long-term including legally choosing a permanent caregiver for your pet and giving them the money necessary to care for your pet. This agreement would be set up through a pet trust, but some state rules require that only human beings can be beneficiaries of trusts so it is recommended that you seek out an estate planning attorney to work through the potential of a pet trust for your pet. If they work with you to deem that a pet trust is right for you and your pet, they can help draft this trust, determine the appropriate amount of money to fund it, make sure there are alternative takers upon the death of your pet, and lay out other key details.

Entrusting Your Pet to a Shelter

An alternative to a named caregiver would be to name an animal welfare organization as the caregiver. In some instances, you may also be asked to make a monetary donation to said shelter in your will. A pet owner considering any animal welfare group for this purpose should make sure that they understand the shelter’s procedures and programs prior to selection.

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay does not have a formal program set up to intake your pet as part of a trust or your will, but we have an open admissions policy if you want your executor to surrender your pets to HSTB. We do not ask for any level of monetary contribution. We’re happy to talk with you more about planning for your pet in the case of an emergency or what to expect when talking with an attorney about your pet.