Estate Planning for your Pets

By Vanessa DeDominicis

Pets are like family. How do we provide for them after we are gone? How do we ensure that they are taken care of? There are several clauses that can be added to your Will to ensure that your pets do not go without the care they need. For example:

“Direction regarding pets

If my wife, X does not survive me, then I direct my Trustees to deliver my two dogs, RUFUS and WHISKEY, if RUFUS and WHISKEY are alive at the date of my death, together with any and all related equipment (my “Dogs”), as soon as possible after my death to any of my family members willing to take them.  If my family members are unwilling to take my Dogs, then I direct my Trustees to give my Dogs to Y, if she survives me.”

Or some people prefer the following, depending on the number of pets they have, and depending on their willingness or ability to provide maintenance / compensation for the ongoing care of their pets:

“Bequest for maintenance of animals

I direct my Trustees to give any pets that I may own as at the date of my death, together with any equipment used in connection with my pets (collectively referred to as my “Pets”), to my mother, X, and my father, Y, or the survivor of them, for their own use absolutely.  If both of X and Y do not survive me, or survive me but are unwilling or unable to take my Pets, then I direct my Trustees to give my Pets to my friend, Z, if she survives me, for her own use absolutely.  In this regard and provided that Z agrees to receive and care for my Pets, I direct my Trustees to give the additional sum of $20,000.00 to Z to assist her with the maintenance and welfare of my Pets for as long as they shall live. Upon the death of my Pets, it is my wish that whatever sum remains from this cash gift, if any shall be retained by Z, for her own use absolutely. I declare that the receipt by Z of each of my Pets and cash gift, together with her agreement to care for my Pets for the duration of their lives, shall be a sufficient discharge to my Trustees who need not take further steps with respect to same. If Z does not survive me, or survives me but is unwilling or unable to receive and care for my Pets, then I direct my Trustees, in their absolute discretion, to find a suitable home for my Pets. In this regard, I direct my Trustees to take whatever steps they deem appropriate, in their sole discretion, to find a good home and caregiver(s) for each Pet that I may own as at the date of my death with a private individual or individuals and / or a family, and not in a boarding kennel.  The home(s) and caregiver(s) so selected should be ones with proper facilities so that my Pets can lead happy and healthy lives, and should be ones where my Pets shall have the kind of warm human companionship to which they are currently accustomed.  If I do not leave any Pets as at the date of my death, then the said bequests shall lapse and not be of any further force or effect.”

There are a myriad of different clauses that can be drafted depending on the circumstances of each situation. The above are merely examples.


This is provided as information ONLY; it should NOT be construed as legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to provide you with specific advice for your own situation. For more information on estate planning and to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact Vanessa DeDominicis on 250-869-1140 or dedominicis@pushormitchell.com  Vanessa practices in the area of Wills/Estates and Real Estate at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna and would be more than happy to assist you.