Can You Include the Care of Your Pets in Probate?

Can You Include the Care of Your Pets in Probate?

Many individuals often miss out on thinking about what will happen to their pets if they are no more. This is a very difficult subject to take into account. But it is also one of the most significant subjects to address sooner than later. Animals outliving their owners need to go through uncertain fates. If the circumstances are good enough, the close friends or the family members take up the responsibility of caring for the pet after the owner’s demise. But in case no one takes up the responsibility, the pet is either euthanized or sent to a shelter. In extreme cases, they show the front door. So, it becomes important for the pet owners to include the care of their pets in probate, and they have all scopes of doing this.

The Pet is a Property

Pet owners should understand that while they might think their furry companions as full-time members of their family, the truth is that the pet, under the eyes of the law, is categorized as general property.

Now, this is something very important for pet owners to understand. The classification means that a person will not be able to leave assets like property or money to their pet. And yes, they also cannot name a pet as the direct beneficiary of the estate in their will.

In other words, it means that the pet will be considered along with the other assets during the probate procedure. This means that if by chance, the pet owner does not specifically set up his or her estate plan with the intention of caring for the pet, the local laws will be dictating the steps that follow.

That being said, different estate planning systems can allow pet owners to provide for their pets. These include:


It is quite likely for the pet owners to put down the directions or the steps for taking care of their pets in their last testament or will. But pet owners really need to understand one thing. The will is not sufficient for protecting their furry companions properly in the way they would like.

The main objective of the testament is disbursing property and not enforcing the demands of the decedent. This means that even if the deceased has left his or her dog and some amount of cash to any relative, it does not guarantee that the personal will be taking care of the dog forever.

So, it can rightly be said that wills are not the right documents for including the care of a pet in probate. Also, the functions of this document have fundamental limitations. These documents cannot provide for what happens to the pets during the probate procedure that can be time-consuming as well as lengthy.

Pet Trust and Probate

Coming up with a pet trust is one good way of bolstering the provisions of a will or for providing for a pet through a different medium altogether. Pet trusts are of good help in controlling fund disbursements.

In most cases, they even make way for provisions for the care of the pet in case of incapacitation. The pet trust powers help in creating legal obligations for the selected caretakers to provide for the pet according to the wishes of the deceased. This is way above and even beyond everything that has been identified or dictated in the will.

Pet owners even can appoint separate parties instead of the guardian or the caretaker of the pet to invest or protect the funds.

Other Significant Arrangements in Probate

In the majority of the cases, pet owners can provide for their pets after their demise through informal arrangements as well as agreements. This can happen only if the pet owners foresee there are no contests or disputes taking place over the ownership of the pet.

The pet owners can come up with letters determining how to take care of the animal immediately after their death. Pet owners can even get into agreements with certain organizations that offer programs for pet care. This is a good solution when you do not find anybody responsible enough to take care of the pet if it is at all included in probate.


Of course, exclusive circumstances can differ from one individual to another. But one thing to keep in mind that the estate plan of an individual should include everything- even the pets. It is necessary to be proactive while planning and estate. Taking the help of a lawyer can also be a wise decision.

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