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Who will look after my pet if I die?

Our pets are not just animals; they are our cherished companions and vital members of our family. They bring us joy, enrich our lives, and provide unwavering loyalty. However, they also depend on us entirely. That’s why it’s crucial to plan for their future, in case we become unable to care for them any longer. If you’ve ever wondered, “Who will look after my pet if I die?”, read on for some options and guidelines on steps you can take to ensure that your pet receives the love and care they deserve, even if you’re not there to provide it.

Assigning a pet guardian

Often, we assume that a family member or friend will step in and take care of our pets in the event of something happening to us. However, it is crucial to take the time to actually discuss this thoroughly with whomever you think would be a good option, ensuring that they understand and are willing and able to take on this responsibility.

You may find upon doing so that the guardian you were hoping to assign cannot take on the role, or even that several people had thought to take it on. This open communication ensures clarity and prevents disputes should the need arise. Ideally, your chosen guardian will regularly spend time with your pet, and keeping them informed about your pet’s needs will facilitate a smoother transition to their new home when necessary.

Legal points to consider

Whilst we all think of our pets as members of the family, legally they are considered personal possessions, so it is sensible to plan for them in your own will to avoid any confusion or complications. Once you’ve asked your trusted friend or family member if they will be your pet’s guardian, you can make a gift in your will of your pet or pets to that person. You can also appoint a substitute guardian, in the case that your primary guardian predeceases you, or cannot take care of your pet for other reasons.

You cannot leave money to your pet, as they are technically “possessions” and not people. However, you can leave money to your intended guardian if you would like to make sure that the costs of your pet’s needs will be covered.

There are a number of legal technicalities in this situation that should be looked into carefully when considering these aspects. For more information, get in touch with a trusted solicitor.

However, for those who find themselves without friends or family to provide support during this challenging time, it’s important to seek alternative sources of companionship and understanding. Consider reaching out to local pet support groups, online communities, or even volunteering at animal shelters, where you can connect with people who share similar experiences and emotions. Remember, even without a traditional support network, there are still opportunities to find solace and connection during the holidays.

Create a Pet Trust

As mentioned above, it is not possible to leave money directly to your pets, and whilst you can leave it as a gift directly to their new guardian, you cannot ensure that that money will be spent on the pet(s) in question. If you would appreciate a more thorough approach, you can set up a pet trust, which is a legal arrangement that specifies how your pet will be cared for and designates funds for their well-being.

You can work with a solicitor to establish a trust that outlines the financial aspects, such as the amount required for food, veterinary care, grooming, and other necessities. Appoint a trusted person as the trustee, responsible for managing and distributing the funds according to your instructions.

What if I don't have a trusted guardian?

It’s entirely possible that you might not have someone in your life who can readily step up to care for your beloved pet if something were to happen to you. Please don’t fret; there’s a reassuring solution. Many wonderful animal charities offer pre-need registration schemes that you can join.

These programmes ensure that pets in need, with nowhere else to turn, receive the love and care they deserve. In the event of your passing, these agreements will give the organisation the responsibility of taking in and caring for your pet whilst looking to find them a loving home to be adopted into. Make sure when looking into these organisations that they are reputable and have a history of responsible pet placements.

Here are some options that you could consider:

  • The RSPCA’s Home for Life scheme: Home for Life
  • Dog Trust’s Canine Care Card: Canine Care Card
  • The Cat Protection League’s Cat Guardian Card: Cat Guardians
  • And The Cinnamon Trust, with its network of over 15,000 volunteers, who help elderly and terminally ill people care for their pets. If you are a Cinnamon Trust service user at the time of your death and your pet has no clear future, the Cinnamon Trust will step in to foster your pet and look to sort out alternative solutions for them.

Stay updated

It is important to remember to regularly review and update your pet care plan. Life circumstances change, and the person you initially designated as your pet’s guardian might no longer be the best choice. Keep the information in your will and other legal documents current, reflecting your pet’s evolving needs and the availability of suitable caregivers. It is also relevant to make sure that your pet is microchipped and has good identification. And finally, make sure that the people in your life are aware of what you have planned for your pets in an emergency or in the event of your passing, so they are able to put your plans into action as smoothly and quickly as possible.

That being said, incorporating new traditions can help shift the focus from the absence of your pet to celebrating their legacy. Whether it’s volunteering at an animal shelter, making a charitable donation in your pet’s name, or simply taking a reflective winter walk in nature, these activities can provide a positive outlet for your emotions and contribute to the healing process.

Final thoughts

Planning for your pet’s future without you may seem daunting, but it’s an act of love that ensures their continued happiness. In the unfortunate event that you can’t be there to care for them, taking these proactive steps can provide peace of mind and ensure that your furry friend has the best experience possible.

By assigning a dependable guardian, setting up a pet trust, providing detailed instructions, exploring adoption organisations, and keeping your plans up to date, you’re securing the love and care your pet deserves, even when you can’t be there to provide it in person.

Always remember, to your pet, you’re not just a part of their life; you are their whole world. Taking these steps is a testament to your enduring love and unwavering commitment to their well-being, even in your absence.

At CPC Cares, we extend our heartfelt support to you during this difficult time, and we hope these tips help you find moments of peace and healing this holiday season.

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