Nearly 70% of U.S. households own pets. While you may consider your pet to be a living, breathing member of your family, the reality is that the law considers your furry friends as your property. Because your pets are considered property, you cannot legally leave money directly to your pets, and, even more worrisome, they are part of your Estate just like any other property you may own. 

Avoiding Probate and Pet Shelters.

  • If you do not have proper Estate Planning documents, your property (including your pets) may be subject to your state’s intestacy laws, which typically means that a Probate court will appoint a representative who will be responsible for what happens to your pets. Sadly, pets are often put in shelters. If you don’t want your furry friends to potentially end up in a shelter, proper Estate Planning is a must. 

Naming your Pet Guardian.

  • When deciding who will look after your pets after you pass it is a good idea to choose someone you know and trust. The individual you select is not legally required to honor your request. That is why you should discuss your wishes with your loved ones. If there is no one you trust to look after your pets, you may consider naming a local animal organization. 

Leaving Money for Pet-Related Care.

  • It is always a good idea to remember that your pet guardian will become your pet’s new owner and will therefore be responsible for providing food, shelter, and care. Leaving a sum of money to the pet guardian in your Estate Planning documents is recommended to lessen the financial burden of pet ownership. While the love from your pets is free, their care is not. When deciding how much to allocate, consider your pet’s life expectancy and the likelihood of developing health issues requiring extra care.

Pets Personalities are Unique.

  • Each pet has its own unique personality and selecting the appropriate individual(s) that will care for them is not to be taken lightly. Being a pet owner is a big responsibility. If you own several pets, consider if you would want just one person to care for all of your pets or if you want to send them to different owners in separate homes. 

As any pet owner will attest, we love them dearly and would do anything for them. Unfortunately, not all ensure they will be properly cared for after we’re gone.

If you are a Maryland or Virginia resident and would like help with protecting your assets and loved ones (including your pets) in the event of death or disability, contact us at 301-696-0567 or self-schedule at