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Pets and estate planning: Simple tips for success

7/30/2015 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

In the hustle and bustle that occurs after a loss, many Pennsylvania families struggle to figure out how to best care for a beloved pet that is left behind. This is especially true in cases in which the death was sudden and there was no plan left in place for the care and custody of one or more animals. There are a few simple estate planning steps that can help ensure that one’s pets are properly cared for in the event of an owner’s death.

Unfortunately, the only aspect of pet care and estate planning that is given any attention by the media is the use of trusts. In some cases, creating a trust that will cover the cost of pet care is an appropriate choice. An example would be an older dog that requires expensive medical care, or horses who require ongoing training and boarding. Most pets require a lower level of planning, most of which revolves around creating a base of information that can be passed on to the individual who will take over the animal’s care.

A great place to begin is to compile a list of care providers and medical records. This can help the new owner continue the same level of care to which an animal has grown accustomed. If there will be a move, the new owner can ensure that those records are transferred to the new veterinarian. It is also helpful to include an overview of the animal’s personality, likes and dislikes.

When choosing an individual or family to take over the care of a pet, a few important considerations must be made. The person chosen must have the means, the ability and the desire to assume responsibility for a pet. This necessitates a series of conversations on the topic, so that all parties are on the same page when it comes to what would happen in the event of a death.

Pets often go through a period of intense stress after the loss of an owner and will need a higher degree of attention until they adjust to their new living arrangements. Pennsylvania owners can go a long way toward making that transition easier for all involved. By taking the estate planning advice shared here, owners can rest assured that their estate plan is truly complete.

Source:, “Pet Estate Planning: Six Things You Need to Do To Protect Your Pet“, Diane Rich, July 22, 2015