Planning for your future should include a plan for your pet

If something happens to you, what happens to your pet?

Free Will

Even if you expect to be alive for another 50 years, it’s important to have a plan for what happens to your belongings — including your pet — when you pass. Creating a will is an easy way to put that plan in place, and it isn’t as complicated or time consuming as you might think.

We know that pets are family. We want to help our supporters and their pets in every stage of life, including the end, so we sat down with Animal Humane Society’s Planned Giving Advisor, Ali Schneider, for a quick chat about how easy and important it is to make a will.

Q: How many animals are surrendered to AHS due to their owners passing away?

A: In 2018, 154 animals came to AHS due to the death of their owner. Another 291 were surrendered due to the declining health of their owner. While failing health or even death may be a reason many animals come into our care, it doesn’t have to be. Creating a will is an easy way to leave your pet with someone you know personally and trust with your pet’s wellbeing.

Q: What can pet owners do to make sure their pets are cared for, should something happen?

A: Make a will! First and foremost, talk to friends and family to determine who might like to care for your pet. Then create that will. AHS also offers our Loved for Life program to Legacy Circle members, but a will ensures you’re leaving your pet to someone you already know and trust.

Q: If I don’t have much of an estate, why do I need a will? What’s the point?

A: Your estate doesn’t need to be grand or fancy. Creating a will ensures that your wishes are carried out. No one has to guess what you’d like to happen to all your stuff — including your best four-legged friend! A will is simply an expression of values for the people and causes you love, no matter how old you are.

Q: Does it take long? What else can you leave in a will?

A: It seriously takes less than 20 minutes. We’ve partnered with FreeWill an online service that provides animal lovers with a free, easy tool to create a will. It guides you through all the steps, including who should get your dog, cat, or critter. You can leave instructions on anything — like who gets control of your social media. A will is simply your way of telling your friends and family how to take care of your stuff. You can even leave gifts to causes close to your heart, like AHS!

Q: Are there any benefits to leaving a gift to a nonprofit like AHS?

A: You bet! If you leave a gift to AHS as part of your estate, let us know and you’ll become a member of our Legacy Circle. It’s our way of showing our appreciation, especially on behalf of the animals. As a Legacy Circle member, you can also enroll your pets in our Loved for Life program. If you have any questions about using FreeWill or planning for your future, contact the planned giving team at plannedgiving@animalhumanesociety.org.

Start writing your free will using the FreeWill tool.

Learn more about planned giving
and how a will can help not only your pet, but also the more than 23,000 animals that come through our shelters each year.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline