What happens to our animals if we die?

It’s not something we usually like to think about and so many people make no preparations: what happens to our animals should we die or become incapacitated?

As I began to take on more dogs, and more challenging dogs, I started to spend more time thinking about it. My dogs run the gamut of special needs from physical to behavioral, and some would be very tough to place. What would happen?

I don’t have a will and I’m not quite ready to write that yet – I have no dependents, so it’s not that important to me. Retirement accounts go to my family and property of various types can go to whomever would like it. I won’t be around to object.

I looked into lawyer-created pet trusts, but they weren’t really what I wanted. After considering it for a while, here’s what I decided to do:

I took out a $100,000 life insurance policy which names my favorite rescue, Pets Alive, as the sole beneficiary. Although this took a while to set up, it only costs me $12 per month. I then made a very simple agreement with Pets Alive. Things were intentionally left very general because I trust in them to do the right thing – should I pass away, and my family is not able to take in my dogs, Pets Alive would take them in and make them available for adoption. Everybody wins (well, maybe except me) – Pets Alive gets a nice donation and the dogs are cared for.


Obviously this would not be appropriate to everyone’s situation but it’s something all animal people would do well to think about. If you’re interested in other possibilities, the book When Your Pet Outlives You is highly recommended.

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