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Estate Planning for Pets - Choosing the Best Option

It can be disastrous for the animals when a pet owner or the sole operator of a rescue dies and leaves them with no one willing or able to care for them. It is important to consult an attorney to help you plan for the continuing care of animals even if it is just until they can be placed in other homes or facilities. In many cases, their lives may depend on it. 

In Washington pet owners can help assure that their animals will be taken care of when they are no longer able to do so. With the help of an attorney, pet owners can set up a pet trust with funds designated for the care of the animals and a trustee who can also serve as caregiver. 

There are other options for pet care for you and your lawyer to consider including durable power of attorney, revocable living trusts, wills, life insurance and retirement plans, lifetime care programs and contracts.

Allen & Mead attorneys can help you plan for the future care of your pets.


Nonprofits should also plan in advance for the care of animals in the event of the disability, death or departure of a primary caregiver.  It is important to consult an attorney to advise you on the legal restrictions on disposition of the assets, property and placement of animals.

1. As a nonprofit, the organization can continue to operate despite the death or departure of the primary or even sole caregiver. Your Board of Directors and attorney can plan for this event by adding ahead of time another person as Director who can then take over and operate the nonprofit. Also, it is possible to obtain life insurance on the founder or principal caretaker. The nonprofit can be designated as a beneficiary, and the proceeds can then be used to help continue the operation of the nonprofit.

2.  Your attorney can draft a contract between your nonprofit and another nonprofit or organization to care for the animals upon the occurrence of a contingency such as dissolution of the nonprofit or death of a principal caretaker. Typically, the assets of the closing nonprofit would be transferred as well under the contract. If there is a life insurance policy for the founder or principal caretaker, the nonprofit that has agreed to care for the animals can be designated as the beneficiary.

Allen & Mead attorneys can help your nonprofit plan for the future care of your animals.