The Ultimate Guide To Putting A Pet Provision In A Will​

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I was sitting in my office thinking about what to blog about today. One of my clients asked me about putting a pet provision in her  will it to be taken care of if something were to happen to her.

So after i did some research i realized how so many pet owners would benefit from this information! In this article,  I will go over the 3 possible scenarios where  pet owners need a  will to plan for their beloved pets and how to do it :

  1. If you cant find a specific person you choose who agrees and will follow through on taking in your pet.
  2. If you can find a specific person you who agrees to and will follow through on taking in your pet.
  3. If you can find a specific person who agrees to and doesn’t follow through on taking in your pet.

How Do You Put A Pet Provision In A Will?

put pet provision in a willThis should be a very simple, quick, and easy process”. There are numerous websites that allow you to make a will for free using their online templates in less than 5 minutes.

Please keep in mind, whatever instructions you put in your will for your pet should go in your letter of instruction as well. The will is important for being legally binding.

However, it tends to spend weeks in probate. This slows down the process of executing the final wishes of the deceased. 

The letter of instruction will be immediately available. 

If anything happens to you,  then your pet will be left home alone without you to feed and care for  it. You should designate at least 2 people to be contacted immediately if something happens to you.

One as the primary backup and the second as a backup to their backup. These people would be titled as your emergency pet caregivers. 

In your will you will want to create a free codicil to your will. This means basically an amendment. This is where you will includ the pet provision.

This is where you will designate the name of your pet, your address, and who you want the emergency caregivers to be. Your will should always have an executor.

You can always ask your executor to find your pet a home, which will not require you to make a codicil. Here are a couple of examples

  •  “Please make sure to move my dog , bo, which I may own at the time of my death, to his new owner John Jones, presently residing at 1234 South Street, Any City, any state, with the request that he treat bo as a companion animal.”
  • “I would like my Executor to place my dog, bo, at my death with another individual or family he can be cared for in a healthy, responsible, and devoted manner.”

How To Set Up And Choose An Emergency Pet Caregiver.

In your will you can designate a section for your pet naming your backups as the emergency pet caregiver. Your neighbors, friends, and family probably know that you have pets. These pets are your family too.

Would it be silly to have a copy of the contacts for the emergency pet caregivers in the hands of people who know you and care about you?

putting a pet provision in a will

You can also carry an ASPCA pet alert card that has a short message to contact these people should anything happen to you. That way these caregivers can go check on your pets right away.

All because you took a minute to write it out on  a card to put in your wallet. 

Depending on how many pets you have should be  starting point for how many caregivers you will want to contact to let them know your plan. If you have one pet then two caregivers should suffice.

The more pets you have will require more caregiver contacts since your pets may have to be separated.

Pets can form a bond together that could lead to a difficult transition in their new homes when separated. Consider factors like if there are small children, living space, or have these people developed familiarity with your pet?

It should be a two way street for a mutually beneficial arrangement. 

Remember, the new owner will have full discretion over their new pet. This means you can leave guidance on favorite foods, veterinarian recommendations, and even a request for your pet to be buried or euthanized.

However, the new owner will have control since your final wishes are not enforceable. Knowing this will help you connect the right person with your pet.

What Is A Pet Dossier? And Why Should You Care?

What is a pet dossier and how do you get one? Well, a pet dossier is document that summarizes how you would reccomend care for your pet. It would have the name and picture of your pet along with the following information:

  1. Habits
  2. Food preferences
  3. Medical conditions and medications taken
  4. Veterinary information and records
  5. Behavior around other pets/people/children

After you have this, include a copy with your will and send copies to atleast 2 households who you would want to care ffor your pets in case of an emergency.

Quick Tips For Leaving Pets With Pet Rescues Or Animal Shelters

putting a pet provision in a willOne of the best options for any pet is your local humane society. They have a 94% placement rate in finding your pet a good home from an owner that has been thoroughly screened for your pet’s safety .

They do this because they cannot care for your pet indefinitely. If you would like to have more control over where your pet goes, there are pet retirement sanctuaries that you can find locally who will not euthanize your pet if they can’t place it in a home.

We have yet to hear about someone being unable to find a  no kill pet retirement sanctuary that’s local to a pet owner.  Contact them and let them know you would like to make arrangements for your pet to go them in the event of your death.

Then if you want to make sure your pet will be okay there, visit this place. This will inevitably be a form of institutionalization that may or may not work for your pet. It is still probably a better alternative than having no plan in place. 


Maybe right now you would rather not think about planning for your pet just in case something happens to you. The feeling of completing this process will be so rewarding for you if you follow through with this plan.

As an independent life insurance agent, our pet owner applicants like to make the  emergency caregivers beneficiaries in their policies for a fixed dollar amount specifically for pet care.  This is easy to do because a lot of policies allow for 5-10  beneficiaries.

Combine this with the pet provision in a codicil of a free will and you will have efficiently set up an estate plan for your pet at virtually no cost!

Caring for your pet from now on will be much more satisfying because you know you took that extra step out of love to make sure it’s okay. Did we leave something out that you have questions about? I Let us know in the comments below! 

About the author

Victor Vega has over a decade of experience in working with individuals regarding their personal finances after starting in 2007 at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. I started Garden Mutual in 2020 so that you could have access to a life insurance agent that puts your interests first! As an independent agent, I work with over 10 carriers. This means that my loyalty is to my customer and not any one particular insurance company . Let me provide you with objective information that you can use to pick the best life insurance policy for yourself today.  We are always looking to improve ourselves for your benefit!

If there are any problems with the information in this article would it be ridiculous to let us know in the comment section below?

Email me at info@gardenmutual.com or call me at 908-388-4916.

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