Should I make provisions for my pet in my Will?

By David G. Henry

Many pet owners make informal arrangements with respect to their pets; however, informal arrangements have no legal effect after the pet owner’s death. Therefore, a pet owner should consider including provisions in his Will that stipulate how his pet is to be cared for following his death, as those provisions can be legally enforced.

First of all, a pet owner’s Will can state who the pet’s owner will be after his death. In addition, such Will can include instructions with respect to the ongoing care of the pet. Finally, such Will can appoint a third party to monitor the pet’s situation to ensure that it is receiving proper care.

Caring for a pet requires financial means. Pennsylvania law allows a pet owner to create a trust to receive funds from the pet owner’s estate to provide finances needed for the pet’s care, including enforcement of the conditions included in his Will. Although the pet cannot be the actual beneficiary of the trust, the provisions of the trust can direct that the trust funds be used for the pet’s needs during the remainder of its lifetime.