I have two dogs and love them dearly. They are definitely family members we love.
Many clients want to address the needs of their pets in their estate planning documents. Planning for what happens to dogs and cats at your death is important because if your death was unexpected your pets will someone to look after them while the estate is being administered.
Many clients name a person, to whom their pets should be given, and often they leave money also to that person to facilitate the pet’s future care.
Alternatively I have had a few instances where clients wanted to leave their assets for the care of their pets for the pets life. Euthanizing the pet was not an option for them. In both cases these clients wanted the pets to remain living in their home until the pets died. One case the client had a caretaker for the property and provided him an opportunity to live in the house until her last pet died. In the other case, I helped the client find an estate and trust administrator to maintain and rent (subject to the pet care) the house for the benefit of the cats, until the last of the cats died, then the remainder went to the client’s sister.
Establishing a trust for the benefit of pets is considered an honorary trust and is not enforceable by law. However I have found in my experience that there are people interested in facilitating such kinds of trusts.