Billy and Buddy Think You Need an Estate Plan


by David D. Holland


There is no doubt about it; estate planning is very important. In fact, as many of my clients know, I personally provide trustee services in addition to my work as a financial adviser. Recently I had a guest on my radio show who shared information on a similar topic, but one that very few people ever consider. Estate planning – for pets!


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Now, I spend a lot of time getting to know my clientele, so I am well aware of the special bond many of my clients have with their “furry kids.” But, I wonder how many individuals (and couples) take the time to consider what would happen to their animal if the pet owner(s) were in an accident and left unable to communicate – or worse yet, if they were to pass away unexpectedly.


I encourage all “pet parents” to consider these three things:


1. Carry a pet alert card. If you are in an accident, responders will go through your wallet. A card with all your pet’s information will alert someone that a pet is alone in your home. Make sure to include the name and contact information of at least two people (preferably three) who would be willing to care for the animal in case of such an emergency. Please confirm this with each person before volunteering them for the position of caregiver.


2. Consider a “Pet Trust” or a “Pet Protection Agreement.” These are legal contracts you can prepare with the help of a lawyer. (Not all lawyers will be familiar with these specialized documents; ask about their experience in this area.) A Trust may be a better alternative than a Will for specifying your wishes for your pet, especially if you plan to leave funds to a caregiver for food, health care and the ongoing maintenance of your pet.


3. Reach out to humane societies and rescue organizations. These entities may be able to provide a temporary foster home for your pet while they attempt to place them with a permanent family.


I’ve emphasized the importance of planning in advance on many occasions. Here is yet another way you can rest a little easier – knowing your “best friend” will have a loving home when you are no longer able to care for him/her. For more information, Billy and Buddy (yes, they are my Miniature Schnauzers!) recommend that you visit the ASPCA’s website at
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