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NC and SC Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm

Monday, May 27, 2019

Estate Planning for Your Pet

Whether it is a dog, cat, bird, or other kind of animal, our pets are like family. Like family, we want to make sure our pets are properly cared for after we pass away. This is possible with careful estate planning

How Do You Include Pets in Your Estate Plan?

If you wish to provide for the care of your pets in your estate plan, special considerations must be made. While you may be able to name a caregiver for your pet in your will, you cannot specifically leave money to your pet because, under both North and South Carolina law, pets are considered property. Property cannot inherit. Additionally, a will must go through the court monitored probate process which means there could be a critical delay in when your designated caretaker will actually take over looking after your pet after you have died This is where the pet trust comes in. A pet trust is a unique legal estate planning tool designed for people who wish to ensure their beloved animals are properly cared for after they have passed.

Both North and South Carolina allow you to create a pet trust. A pet trust can be created for any type of animal. With a pet trust, you can transfer money into the trust and have it managed by a trustee who is tasked with ensuring distributions of trust assets are made in accordance with the terms of the trust. The trust is effective immediately upon the pet owner’s death. Because trusts pass outside of probate, there will not be a delay in care for the pet. The trustee does not necessarily need to be the one assigned as the pet’s caregiver, but a caregiver for the animal must be provided for in the terms of the trust. In addition to selecting a trustee, a caregiver, and funding the trust, there are other specific matters that should be included in the trust documents such as:

  • Pet name
  • Pet type
  • Pet breed
  • Pet birth date
  • Feeding protocol: type of food, brand of food, times of feeding, amount of food per feeding
  • Temperament: good with children, good with other animals, approachable by strangers
  • Walking routine
  • Location of dog park permits
  • Veterinarian contact information
  • Health insurance information
  • Medications and instructions regarding administration of medication: heartworm, flea and tick, allergy medications
  • Medical history: past surgeries
  • Name and contact information for both the primary and successor trustee
  • Name and contact information for both the temporary and permanent caregiver/guardian
  • Financial information regarding where the money for your pet is held
  • Instructions regarding how any remaining trust funds will be distributed should there be any remaining upon the death of the animal
  • Burial or cremation instructions

The more specific you are with the terms and information included in the trust, the better prepared the trustee and the caregiver/guardian of your pet will be to honor your wishes.

Estate Planning for You and Your Loved Ones, Pets Included

We love for our pets like family. We care for our best like family. Make sure your pet is properly taken care of if anything should happen to you. We don’t want to overlook the needs of these faithful, loveable creatures. At Monk Law Firm, we estate plan for you and your loved ones, pets included. Contact us today.


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Monk Law Firm, PLLC assists clients throughout Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.



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1701 First Baxter Crossing, Suite 101, Fort Mill, SC 29708
| Phone: 803-594-4453
13315 Carowinds Blvd., Suite Q, Charlotte, NC 28273
| Phone: 704-369-9977

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