Small Business


Intellectual Property

 May 16, 2019

Keep Your Animal Friends Safe—Add Pets to Your Will

Woman with small daughter and pet cat reviewing her Last Testament & Will

Did you know you can continue to provide for your animal friends even after you die?

That’s right! Pet trusts are on the rise. With a pet trust, you can leave an inheritance for your beloved cat or dog. Even less-common pets like roosters and tortoises can be protected by trusts. Many pet owners have some kind of post-death financial arrangement for their pets.

Here are some fun examples of the care that animal owners have insured for their pet friends in recent years.

  • In 2002, British publishing tycoon Miles Blackwell left $15 million to his pet hen Gigoo.
  • An Italian widow named Maria Assunta left $13 million, and a couple of flats and houses, to her dear cat Tommaso in 2011.
  • A turtle named Big Tibby received $60,000 from his owner in 1999, including private ceramic baths and university education.
  • In 2007, a Maltese named Trouble inherited $12 million from her owner. Annual expenses included $100K for security since the poor creature received 20 death threats in her lifetime.

Clearly, these pets were near and dear to their owners. Though you might not have a hen who needs $15 million or a tortoise who wants to go to college, we know you still want to provide the best for your loved pets. You don’t have to go to extremes to take care of your furry – or feathery or scaly – friends.

Just like you would leave finances and property to family, your Will can specify who you leave your pets with when you’re gone. By choosing a trusted loved one as the pet’s new owner, you can be confident that your animal friend receives the love and care they deserve. And by establishing a trust, you can even name a trustee who is legally obligated to make payments to the caretaker for your pets with the money you leave. This means your animals would be provided for, following the exact stipulations you layout.

There are two ways you can make sure your pets are provided for after your passing:

  1. You can draft a Will, ensuring your pets go to a caring new owner of your choosing.
  2. You can establish a trust, where you name your pets as your beneficiaries, and appoint a trustee to hold the property in trust and a caretaker to watch over your pets for you.

Which of these options is the better fit for you and your furry animal friends? With LegalShield, you have the opportunity to obtain both! Here’s how it works.

LegalShield’s dedicated provider law firms will help you set up your Last Will and Testament. In this document, you can lay out exactly who you’d like to become the new owner of your animal friends, giving you the comfort of leaving your pets with someone you trust. If you want to go a step further, as a LegalShield Member, you can retain your provider law firm for a 25% discounted hourly rate and establish your pet trust. This is where you name your beneficiary pets and give a specific person or party the responsibility to delegate your assets for your pets. In other words, you can decide who cares for your animal friends and what they do for them.

It’s important to set up a proper trust to ensure your pet’s care is kept legal and above board. After all, your pet deserves the best of care and security. Some caretakers have been known to give the pet the cheapest care possible so they can hoard the finances. Others may secretly replace the pet after it dies, so they can keep receiving the money for its care. Luckily, caretakers designated in a trust are legally obligated to treat your pet according to your wishes. They will do what it takes to see that your furry friend receives the care you’ve stipulated.

Do you want your animal friend to be safe and secure after you’re gone? LegalShield can assist you with that. When you prepare your Will with a LegalShield Provider Law Firm, the experienced attorneys will help make sure everything is carried out how you want. If you are leaving a dog bed and Fido to your brother, our lawyers can see that your brother gets Fido and a dog bed. If you want to give your neighbor a monetary bequest in addition to Octavian the Cat, your provider law firm can also help make that happen.

What if your caretaker just ends up giving the pet to a shelter and using the money for his or her own selfish gains? LegalShield provider law firms will be on the side of you and your pet – not the side of who gets the most money. While preparing your pet trust with a LegalShield Provider Law Firm, you get to make the calls for how your animal friend receives care. As the settlor, you can name the pet or pets who are inheriting your possessions and finances. The trustee is the person responsible for overseeing the trust, and the caretaker is the main party who will care for the pet in your absence.

One of the best ways to ensure that your caretaker doesn’t sneak in a secret “replacement” pet is actually quite simple. Be very specific in your description of your pet. That way, the trustee can always know whether the pet is cared for. If the caretaker tries to do something that goes against your prescribed wishes for your friend, the trustee can put a stop to it.

Your Will is the most precious gift you can give your loved ones. And that should include your pets, so make sure to include your animal friends when preparing your Will. Taking care of your family, your possessions, and your pets is important. Would you like to start the process today? Learn more about personal legal plan details from LegalShield to get accessible and affordable legal coverage, so you can begin preparing your Will. Ensure that your family – whether they walk on two legs or four – will receive the best of care for years to come.

This is a general overview of the Ride Share and Delivery Supplement (“Supplement”) available from LegalShield for illustration purposes only. The Supplement is not available in all states and does not cover all vehicles or income producing activities. See a Supplement for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts and conditions. LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield members through membership-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.


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