Pets Are People Too!

Pets Are People Too!

Pets are family. I have two little dogs that wake me in the morning, beg me to go for walks, “protect” our house from strangers and all manner of wildlife in the yard. They follow me around the house, inspect any home maintenance projects I’m working on, and alert me when it’s time for treats. They also comfort me when I’m ill or sad, and they are the best companions you could have during this COVID-19 lock down.  Yes, they are family and my husband and I look after them as if they were our children.


Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist and bestselling author in Atlanta, has found, through extensive research, that dogs do indeed have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. He believes dogs have great social intelligence and empathy, evidenced by their ability to sense what we are thinking and feeling.

Pets deserve our protection and care.  In my estate planning practice, people often ask how to provide for their pets if they aren’t able to continue to care for them because of incapacity or death. The solution can be very simple. Ask a trusted friend, relative, neighbor or animal protection organization to agree to take care of your pet or pets if you are unable to. Then, we’ll make sure you leave your pet to that person in your will or trust along with an outright gift of funds for their care. Or, we can create a pet trust that provides funds as needed to a caretaker to cover the costs of continuing care for your animals in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

You can also nominate an organization such as the ASPCA to receive any remaining funds in the pet trust after your companion animal has passed. In that case, the ASPCA may agree to act as trustee of your pet trust, to make sure the funds are used appropriately.

So, don’t hesitate to consider your pet’s needs when creating your estate plan. It’s fairly easy to do, and after all, they are your family too!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Use of and access to this information does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Margaret T. Healy and the user or browser.

Margaret T. Healy is licensed to practice law in the State of California only and maintains offices in the County of Los Angeles. Any and all information published in this blog article is specific to the State of California and may not apply in your state.