pet after you diePets have shorter lifespans than humans, and when we adopt a furry family member, we do so with the realization that we will one day be saying goodbye. But what if we are the ones who end up dying first?

As an animal lover, you make sure your pets have the best in food, shelter, veterinary care, and love. Although it’s not the happiest of topics, making plans for the care of a pet after you die is another critical aspect of responsible pet ownership.

Big Decisions

One of the most important decisions when it comes to planning for your pet after you die is choosing a permanent caregiver for him or her. A caregiver for your pet should be a responsible, animal-loving friend or family member you trust and who has met your pet. Have a frank discussion with any potential caregivers about your pet’s daily care and needs, and make sure this individual has the time and ability to provide for your pet.

If you aren’t able to locate a trusted caregiver, there are a few organizations that specialize in the care of pets after their owners have died. For a fee, you can be guaranteed that your pet will be cared for within the organization until he or she is adopted or passes away. If you opt to go with one of these “pet sanctuaries”, be sure to make sure it is a well-established organization, and ask to visit the facility so you can see how the animals are cared for.

Where There’s A Will

A will is a simple and inexpensive option to legally designate a beneficiary and funds to go toward the care of your pet. Be aware that a will doesn’t go into effect immediately upon your death, so there may be a delay in determining the rightful new owner of your pet and for that person to receive the funds you have designated for your pet’s care.

A will is not a good option for anyone who does not 100% trust the caregiver he or she has chosen, as it is impossible to enforce your wishes using a will (in other words, there’s no one to stop the designated caregiver from keeping the money you left for the care of your pet and then putting your pet up for adoption).

Pet Trust

A trust is ideal for those who would like more control over how their pet is cared for and how their money is spent after they have departed. In a trust, there is a designated trustee (ideally not the same person you chose as caregiver) who ensures that your wishes for your pet are being honored and that the money you’ve left for his or her care is being used appropriately. If your standards aren’t being met, the trustee can assign your pet’s care to someone or somewhere else.

Care For A Pet After You Die

Although many of us believe that our family members or close friends will simply “absorb” our pets into their lives should we pass away, this is not always the case. Companion animals end up in shelters every day due to an owner death, and the stress of losing and owner and suddenly being homeless is something none of us wish for our beloved pets. Take the time now to plan for your pet after you die, and sleep better knowing he or she will continue to be loved and cared for, even if you aren’t the one to do it.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact your team at Billings Animal Family Hospital with any questions or concerns about your pet.