You love your pet. You never had children, so your pet is much like your own child. You want to make sure they’re taken care of if you’re somehow unable to care for them yourself, especially because you’re getting older and know they have many years left to live.

While people don’t always think it’s necessary, it is a good idea to set up guardianship for your pet in your estate plan. You might think that your family will take on their care, but it’s better to be safe and to make sure that the guardianship is legally binding.

When you plan for your pet’s care, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on the person who takes on the responsibility. You can:

  • Create a trust for your pet to transfer your pet’s assets (like bedding, food or other items you’ve purchased of their care)
  • Prepare a payment for the guardian, so they have the money they need for vet visits, doggy daycare or other needs
  • Include notes about how to care for your pet. For example, if you are leaving behind a dog that has been trained, you may need to list which commands your pet knows and how to get them to respond
  • Leave information about the pet’s veterinarian, medications and other special needs

Should you choose only one guardian for your pet?

There is no way to be certain that the guardian you choose will be in a position to take on caring for your pet when you pass away or are no longer able to provide care for your pet due to a disability. Since that’s the case, it is smarter to choose more than one guardian. That way, if the guardian you choose can’t care for them, has passed away or is otherwise not interested in caring for your pet, another party can step in. You can name as many guardians as you’d like, but two or three different guardians is usually sufficient to find at least one person willing to take care of your pet after your death.

Creating a pet trust and planning for their care after your death is important. Many pets end up in shelters and with rescue groups when their caretakers go into nursing homes or pass away. If you want to prevent that from happening, then setting up guardianship for your pet in advance is a good way to do so.

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