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 in your Will? The answer, fortunately, is yes here in Washington. Chapter RCW 11.118 sets forth Washington law governing pet trusts in estate planning.
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 law office has experience in this area of practice.
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 in your Will, we can recommend some alternatives for you to make sure that your pet will be well taken care of during the estate planning process. 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!
Pet Planning Resources:
- Stacey quoted in Pet Trusts – Providing for Your Pup After You’re Gone, Bark Magazine, written by Rebecca Wallick, J.D., April 2009
- Stacey quoted in Cat Wills and Trusts: Making Sure Your Pet is Cared For After You Are Gone, Cat Fancy, by Jennifer Williams, PhD, Dec. 2008
- Estate Planning for Pets – A Personal Perspective, November 2021
- A Ruff Decision: The Legal Status of Pets in Divorce and Estate Planning, November 2021
- How Much Should You Leave for Your Pets, October 2019
- Good Estate Planning Includes Caring for, Not Euthanizing, Your Pets, July 2019
- Make Sure Your Will Takes Good Care of Your Pets, April 2017
Please see our List of Washington Animal Welfare Charitable Organizations