Frazer Blog

What Happens to Your Pets When You Die

by | Jan 4, 2018 | For Families

A dog lying on the couch.

We may not want to think about it, but there’s a chance that our pets will outlive us. Do you have a plan for them if something were to happen to you?

Although many people consider pets as part of the family, most states consider them as personal property. So, as you preplan your end-of-life wishes, keep your pets in mind.

If prearrangements aren’t made and you’re the sole caretaker, they may end up in a shelter when you pass away. With an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 pets entering shelters per year after their owner dies or becomes incapacitated, there’s no guarantee that they’ll find a new home.

By preplanning, you can ensure your pets will be taken care of after your gone; let’s discuss the basics below.

Choosing a Caregiver for Your Pets

When selecting caregivers, choose people who you know will treat your pet(s) well. They should be trustworthy, responsible, and have a safe environment for them to live. Also, choose backups in case the original caregivers are unable to care for them.

Creating an Informational Care Packet

You should create an informational care packet, so the caregivers know how to properly care for your pet(s).

Some things to include are:

  • Medications and medical history
  • Daily habits
  • Eating habits
  • Sleeping habits
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Grooming
  • Exercise
  • End-of-life wishes

In these next few sections, we’ll discuss a few preplanning options.

Pet Trust

Creating a pet trust gives you the most control. However, you should make sure to designate two different people as the trustee and caregiver. The trustee is responsible for paying the caregiver any funds and can regularly check-in on the pet(s). This way, you have an additional person looking after their wellbeing. Plus, with a trust, your caregivers are obligated to follow your care instructions.

However, refrain from leaving a large amount of money. According to the Humane Society, the caregiver can try to contest, or challenge, the trust if they disagree with it. This can result in the court deciding to lower the amount of money left for your pet(s).


The next best option is to include your chosen caregivers in your will. However, unlike a trust, they won’t have to follow any specific care instructions. If you do this, make sure you fully trust your appointed caregivers to properly care for your pet(s).

Other Forms of Agreement

Another option is to create your own DIY written agreement; however, this isn’t preferred. It’s recommended to go to a professional estate planner to ensure everything is done correctly.

Sometimes, people also may opt for an informal verbal agreement; however, this definitely isn’t recommended. You should at least get some type of agreement in writing. A verbal agreement doesn’t solidify that they’ll keep their word if the time comes.


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