If you are like many people, your pet is an important part of your life. According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 85 million families in the U.S. own a pet. 

Since your pet is a valued member of your family, you likely want to plan for his or her care if you were to unexpectedly die. Because pets cannot own property, you cannot leave assets to them in your will. But there are other options for making sure your pet still has a good life if you die. 

Your options

You can make a non-legal arrangement to have someone care for your pet. Or, you can make a complex trust and appoint someone to use your assets to care for your pet after you die. 

Before you follow through on these arrangements, first find a person who will take good care of your pet. Talk to him or her about your concerns for your pet and find out if he or she would be willing to take on the responsibility of your pet if you die. 

Not planning for your pet’s care

If you do not make legal arrangements for your pet when you create your estate plan, who cares for your pet after your death can depend on other arrangements you have made. For example, if you make a will, ownership of your pet could go to your residuary beneficiary. This is the person who receives the remainder of your estate after the executor pays all your estate’s debts and distributes its assets.