Your pets depend on you. You probably notice this most when they wake you up just before your alarm to let you know they need to go out, or when they hover around the food dish to remind you they cannot feed themselves. While these reminders may be nice, you probably don’t need them to tell you what they need.

Like many loving pet parents, you know how to care for your pets, and when they need medical checkups, grooming or a certain special treat. Have you considered who will provide this care if your pets should outlive you?

Is a will the best way?

You may assume that a friend or family member will gladly take your pets in when you are no longer around to care for them. Perhaps you have already discussed this with someone, or you plan to leave instructions in your will. If your friend has already agreed and you have complete trust in him or her, you may be satisfied that you have done all you can to prepare for that day.

Unfortunately, many pets in such situations end up in shelters after those trusted friends change their minds. If you plan to leave some money in your will to provide for your animals’ needs, there is no system to force your designated caregiver to use the funds for the purpose you mention in your will.

Pet trusts

More animal lovers are using pet trusts to provide a stable future for their beloved companions. With a pet trust, you can provide money for your pets’ care and specify how you want the designated caregiver to spend the money and the kind of treatment you prefer your pets to receive; for example:

  • Where and when to see a vet or groomer
  • A specific brand of pet food your animals prefer
  • How often to walk or exercise the animal
  • How to manage the end of your pet’s life
  • What to do with any leftover funds in the trust

Your assigned caregiver can be a friend or relative, but you may also consider one of the many charitable organizations who adopt animals in return for a donation.

The beauty of a trust is that a trustee protects the funds and supervises how the caregiver spends the money. Your trustee can also oversee the kind of care your pet receives. Since there are numerous legal issues to consider when you create a trust for your pet, you would be wise to consult a Texas attorney who can guide you in making decisions that best suit your situation.