What Happens When a Pet Owner Dies? 

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Feb 14, 2018

Without a plan in place, beloved pets may not have a home when a pet owner dies.

Our mortality isn't a hot topic for family gatherings or dinner with friends. But for those of us with pets, it's a topic we have to address. When a pet owner dies without specifying what should happen to their furry friend, there's a good chance that dog or cat will end up in a shelter.

It's a sad affair, for sure. Skim the listings of almost any pet adoption site, and you're sure to come across more than a few pets who are there because their owner passed away. It doesn't have to be that way, though. There are a number of different ways to ensure that your pets are taken care of once you are gone.


How to Give Your Pets a Perfect Life
even after you are gone

Don't assume anything
It's not unusual to assume a friend or family member would take in our pets if anything happened to us; however, that's not always the case. Allergies, finances, and living situations are just a few reasons why someone might take your pet to the shelter instead of into their home. Always talk to your preferred caregiver before expecting that your pet will be taken care of. But don't rely on just one person. Anything can happen, and having another person involved ensures your pet has a loving family to live with.

Ask a friend (and put it in writing)
One of the most simple, straightforward ways to ensure your pet's future is to ask at least two friends or loved ones to take care of them in case you are unable to. This works not only in the event of your death, but also if you are unexpectedly hospitalized or incapacitated in some other way.

Make sure they have keys to your home, as well as veterinary information. Because you won't be there to oversee what happens, it's always a good idea to put these plans in writing. Even an informal email is better than nothing; although, if you don't want there to be any doubt, you can put your wishes in your will.

Give your pets a place in your will
A will is a legal way to take care of your relationships after you are gone. For many people, a will establishes guardianship of minor children, distributes belongings, and transfers property to a person of our choosing. You can also include guardianship of your pets in your will. Although not flawless, this is, perhaps, the most legally binding way to ensure they have a home after you are gone.

Create a trust
Another legal route to providing for your pet is through a trust. According to the American Bar Association, "a pet trust provides a host of additional protections and advantages" beyond a will. For instance, you can invest in a trust on behalf of your pet, a trust is valid during life as well as when a pet owner dies, and a trust can "preempt problems with substantial and involved estates." 

Make a list
Along with other important documents, put together a list with important information about your pets. Include veterinary information, any medications they are on, important medical information, and anything else you would want someone to know about your pet.

Find a long-term care facility
In the absence of a friend or relative taking custody of your pets, some organizations will provide lifetime care for your pet and attempt to find them a new home. The specifics can vary from place to place. For instance, The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary in Tucson, Arizona, has an enrollment fee of $1,500 per cat. In return, your cat is promised "a safe and loving environment, preferably as a member of a private family." If they are unable to find a home for your cat, your feline will be a permanent resident of the sanctuary's 9,000-square-foot facility. 

Another approach to long-term pet care is Tyson's Place Animal Rescue, in western Michigan. They work entirely through volunteers to help pets stay with their owners as long as possible while working to foster or adopt them out when the owner is no longer able to care for them.


Thinking now about your pet's future is one way to continue taking care of them even after you are gone. Another way to take better care of your pet today is through pet insurance.


Pet insurance through Pekin Insurance can help make sure your pet gets the veterinary care he or she needs. Contact your Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.



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