3 Ways To Make Sure Your Pets Are Cared For After You're Gone

Earlier this month, the media reported that dead scary lady Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, presumably to ensure that Trouble is well cared for, but also to be humorously cruel to the two grandchildren who got nothing. This inspired USA Today’s “Your Money” columnist Sandra Block to list 3 ways you can plan for your pet’s continued care after you go to “have tea with Mrs. Helmsley” (we don’t want to upset the children in the room).

The first, and most outlandish/awesome suggestion, is to set up a trust fund. It’s actually more practical and cheaper than you think, at least if you live in one of the 38 states (or D.C.) where it’s legal. These “statutory pet trusts” require only a few more lines in your will, and can be for as little as $100. If you go this route, see an attorney and make sure you address the following items:

  • know who will manage your trust;
  • know how you want the money to be spent;
  • provide instructions on what to do with unused funds when the pet dies (we bet this one keeps Trouble awake at night);
  • and know how you’ll fund the trust.

If you can’t or don’t want to set up a statutory pet trust, you can bequeath your pet to a friend or relative, then then threaten to haunt them if they fail to take good care of Sprinkles. Or, you can set up a separate bank account to fund the care and feeding of the pet and name the selected caretaker as the beneficiary. Or you can die alone.

“Your Money: Pet lovers like Helmsley plan ahead” [USA Today]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. blue_duck says:

    Next thing you know, there’ll be nursing homes for pets like these…

  2. blue_duck says:

    I want my dog to have a Ferrari after I go…

  3. Uriel says:

    I wanna take members of my family with me when I die, sealed in my tomb with me, like an eqyptian burial. Why? I don’t care much for my family.

  4. NTidd says:

    What happens for those of us who own pitbulls and plan on being killed by them?

  5. boandmichele says:

    i have pets. i love my pets. but i just dont understand people being so obsessed with their pets like this. i know, flame me, whatever, but i just dont understand it.

  6. blue_duck says:

    Things like this make me wonder if there’s now a hit on Trouble the dog…

  7. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    @boandmichele: I dont think its an obsession that people want to make sure that their pets are taken care of after their death, it seems like common sense planning to me. What’s going to happen to the pets you love when you kick the bucket?

  8. BrockBrockman says:

    @boandmichele: How dare you not understand! How non-understanding of you!

    But, you know, I’d hate to have my cat sent to the pound after I died, considering I rescued him from a needle-y and fire-y death at the pound.

    People, even family, can be real mean to pets that aren’t theirs.

  9. josh1701 says:

    For a sizable donation, some veterinary schools will take care of your pets after one passes away. Here are just a couple:

    Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center

    University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine PerPETual Care Program

    For more information, check out the The Estate Planning for Pets Foundation web site.

  10. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @boandmichele: I love my little pooch too, but I doubt I’d leave my dog a mil+. That being said, it does make sense to be sepcfic about what happens to your pet once you are gone. When my aunt died she had 4 large dogs, and we’re all apartment dwellers, so we had to find them homes. 3 were placed, but sadly one had to go to the pound.

  11. Xerloq says:

    Darn RSS readers. It combined Consumerist with the title of the post and I read “3 Ways To Make Sure Your Pets Are Consumed After You’re Gone. I was expecting something totally different.

  12. B says:

    I’m just going to do like the ancient Egyptians and be buried with my cats.

  13. blue_duck says:

    @B: However, if your cats were to pass before you, would you allow yourself to be buried with them?

  14. AcidReign says:

        A woman on our street died in 1999, and left her house to her beloved cat, Elvis. The house is still being maintained by maid and lawn services, here in 2007. We learned during Hurricane Ivan, that Elvis even has a natural-gas emergency generator in his house. During the outtage, we were tempted to run an extension cord to Elvis’ house!

  15. 2Legit2Quit says:

    my crazy mentally unstable grandmother had her will changed without anyone knowing. She left part of her money with her beloved cat.

    Problem was, the cat had died about five years earlier…. and she had no money.

  16. boandmichele says:

    lol i guess i should specify. i dont understand how people can be so obsessed to leave their dog 12 million bucks. :) i’ll make sure theyre taken care of, sure. but damn. 12,000,000!

  17. Snakeophelia says:

    I don’t have a million bucks, so I won’t be leaving that to my cats, but I do indeed worry about how they would get along if I wasn’t around. Right now, either my husband or my mom will take in the cats if I go.

  18. Allura says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it, but the cats are pretty much the only reason to do a will right now (no kids, no assets worth mentioning). Both cats are on prescription cat food, so while I have friends I think would take them, I shouldn’t also force them to bear the costs if I can help it.

  19. Tricon says:

    Oh, i thought this was going to be an article on how to make sure someone knows you have pets if you die alone, somewhere, so the poor animals dont starve to death or something.