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Can I leave an inheritance to my pets?


The classic Walt Disney movie The Aristocats paints a cute picture – without any human relatives, a wealthy woman leaves her fortune to her beloved cats. You love your pets as much as the character in the movie did. However, leaving an inheritance to your furry family members doesn’t happen like it sometimes does in Hollywood. You and other Texas pet lovers can make sure your pets are taken care of after you die, but it doesn’t mean leaving your estate to them.

You have two main options for ensuring your pets’ well-being if you die before they do. Because the law considers pets to be property, you can leave them to someone in your will. This could be an effective solution if you have no qualms about your chosen caregiver knowing how to care for your pets and giving them the love and attention they deserve.

The other possibility is to create a pet trust. Like other trusts, you can customize a pet trust to include your wishes on your pets’ care, health and interests, which you would fund from your estate. The following examples show how you might set up your pet trust:

  • Instructions on feeding and exercise schedules
  • A list of your pets’ preferred foods, favorite toys and medications
  • Veterinary information, including checkup and immunization schedules
  • Your first, second and possibly third choices of who you would like to be your pets’ caregiver
  • A reward clause compensating the person who takes on the responsibility (which you may want to keep secret to prevent someone from volunteering with an ulterior motive)

You may want to discuss your plans with those you hope to take over your pets’ care, to be sure they are willing and able to bring your pets into their home if you pass away or become incapacitated. A pet trust can give you peace of mind, when otherwise you might worry about your pets’ future without you.