Planning for your future should include a plan for your pet

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

Long-haired cat sleeping by laptop

Even if you expect to be alive for another 50 years, it’s important to make plans for when you pass — for you, for any remaining family, and for your pets too. 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 Officer 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: Each year, more than 100 animals come to AHS due to a death in their family. Hundreds more are surrendered as a result of their pet parent's declining health. 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 their 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 can ensure 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 just means that your wishes are carried out. No one has to guess what you’d like to happen to everything that's important to you — 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 — even 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 belongings. 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, please send us a message.

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Learn more about planned giving and how you can leave a legacy of love, helping animals in need today and for years to come.

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

Contact the Pet Helpline