Planning for Pets
Pets are a part of the family! What happens to your pet when you die? Is there anything you can do to ensure that your pet will be well taken care of? The answer, fortunately, is yes here in Washington. Chapter RCW 11.118 sets forth Washington law governing pet trusts.
By including a pet trust in your Will, you can name a trustee who will care for your pet, a distribution amount for the care of your pet after you are deceased, and also establish how the money should be spent for your pet’s care. Our office has experience in this area of practice.
Stacey L. Romberg, a pet owner, spoke at the Washington State Bar Association’s 2008 Animal Law continuing legal education course regarding the issue of pet trusts. Our office will work with you to help you select an appropriate trustee, who will ideally be someone you trust completely and who also has a strong relationship with your pet.
We can also assist you in determining the distribution amount, considering factors such as your past spending history regarding your pet’s care, the age and health of your pet, and also that pets tend to require more expensive veterinarian care toward the end of their lives.
We also will encourage you to communicate with your trustee and alternates, both verbally and in writing, in terms of what they need to know to take good care of your pet – types of food, name and contact information of your veterinarian, health history and concerns, preferred treats, additional services (massage, acupuncture, etc.), feeding times, spots where your pet likes to be petted, etc.
If you decide that you don’t need or want a pet trust, we can recommend some alternatives for you to make sure that your pet will be well taken care of. Together, we can work through this issue to help ensure that your very loved pet will be well taken care of if anything ever happens to you!
Information on the Seattle Humane Society Pet Guardian Program
The Seattle Humane Society (SHS) Pet Guardian Program (PGP) is a service for SHS supporters who specify in their will or trust document that their companion animal(s) is/are to be entrusted to the Seattle Humane Society at the time of their death. For a one-time fee, an individual or family can enroll as members in the Pet Guardian Program. This membership covers up to five cats, dogs and small critters. This membership remains in effect during the lifetime of the enrollee and includes any animals they own at the time of their death.
In return for enrolling in the Pet Guardian Program, the Seattle Humane Society will:
- Provide collar tags that indicate the pet is enrolled in the Pet Guardian program with an inscription to contact SHS when the owner is unable to care for the animal.
- Provide microchipping for the pets.
- Pick up the animal within a 100 mile radius of the Seattle Humane Society and transport to SHS, if requested.
- Contact PGP members annually to update our files regarding the pet(s) in their household.
- Take pet(s) immediately upon death.
- Keep pets together including a dog and a cat if beneficial for the animals.
- Place the pets in a foster home if they are not doing well at the shelter.
- Take as long as necessary to place adoptable pets into appropriate loving homes.
Your enrollment fee may be considered a tax-deductible contribution, minus any fees for microchipping services provided at the time of enrollment.
- Sally Brunette, Major Gifts Officer, at 425-649-7559, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brynn Blanchard, Director of Development, at 425-649-7552, email@example.com
- Download their Pet Guardian Program FAQ (PDF)
- Seattle Humane Society Web Site
In addition, please consider making a charitable donation in your Will to an organization that helps animals. Please see the link below for suggestions of great organizations.