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Making Provision for Pets in a Will

Hey there, Daniel here—yes it’s me—Daniel the Spaniel. For years, I’ve waited in the proverbial dog house for a topic to write about, and now it’s finally happened. Just in case you’re doubting my credibility, here are all my qualifications.

I’ve been the leading practitioner of tail-wagging and purse-sniffing at Gjesdahl Law for 6 years.

In that time, I’ve spent countless hours lounging on the floor while our estate planning attorney, and top notch belly scratcher, Travis Jung, speaks to folks about their long term future. He does a great job. But, there’s one area of estate planning I think every one of my furry friends’ owners should consider before they come to talk to Travis: making provisions for pets in their will.

For most people, knowing that, when you pass on, your family will be well taken care of is, by far, the most important priority.

For many folks, pets are family, too. Whether you have a floppy-eared squirrel hunter like me, or, God forbid, a cat, it's such a relief to know your pets will be in good hands.

Here are the best ways to provide for your pets during a medical emergency or after your death.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Tragically, some of my furry or feathered friends get over-looked during the chaos of an emergency.

The best thing you can do to keep your pets fed and taken care of during a short-term emergency is to get at least two close friends or family members (preferably ones that know where you keep the Milkbones) to agree to take care of your pets, if necessary.

Also, make sure your neighbors and friends know how many pets you have, and the names and numbers of your emergency pet-sitters.

Next, placing a sticker on your front and back door indicating how many animals you have in the house is a great way to alert first responders of the type and number of pets you have in the case of an emergency at home.

Finally, keep a pet emergency card in your wallet and a contact entry in your cell phone, indicating the names and numbers for your pets’ caretakers.

Prepare for Long-Term Care

The best way to make sure that your pets are taken care of when you are no longer able to provide for them is to work with an attorney like Travis to draw up a will or trust that provides specifically for your pets.

First, you will need to determine who will take care of your pets, whether a specific person, a few people, or an organization.

Using an Organization for Long-Term Pet Care

You may have the option to give your animal to an organization that can care for your pets.

You should also consider designating some funds for this organization to help cover the costs of your pet’s care. Your contribution might help them continue helping other animals as well.

Make sure you have a specific agreement with a local animal organization ahead of time.

Specifying a Person for Long-Term Pet Care

If you decide to leave your pet in the care of a trusted family member or friend, you’ll also want to make sure you designate alternate caregivers. This ensures for the care of your pet if your first choice is unable to properly take care of your furry friends when the time comes.

Day to Day and Financial Pet Care

A will gives you the ability to lay out specific instructions for day-to-day animal care and veterinary treatments as well as the financial security of your animals.

I’d recommend designating money from your trust to cover your pets expenses for as long as possible. It may also be a good idea to assign a trustee over these funds, separate from your pet’s caregiver to make sure the money you set aside for your pet is used properly.

Whether you’re already considering an estate plan or just want to make sure your pets are taken care of, my co-worker and fetch partner, Travis, is ready to help our friends in North Dakota and Minnesota with all their estate planning needs.


Daniel the Spaniel

Dan joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2013. Dan lives in Fargo with the Gjesdahl family and his pet, Daisy, a Lhasa Apso, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix.  He is an excellent ph…
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