For many Georgia residents, their pets are their closest companions in life. Therefore, it makes sense for owners to be concerned with the care their pets will receive after they pass away. People want to provide for their children, other loved ones and even favorite charities, but pets have a special vulnerability. After all, they cannot provide for themselves or even express their needs. People may ask others if they are willing to look after their beloved pets after death, but these kinds of verbal promises are most frequently unenforceable.

Almost 66% of Americans are pet owners. Some pets have longer lifespans, such as birds, horses and turtles, while other pets like dogs and cats may need specialized care or expensive surgical treatments. Pets are considered property under the law, so they could be passed in a person’s will. However, the pet would need care before the will is probated. In addition, the new owner of the pet would not be subject to ongoing oversight, nor would he or she receive distributions of funds for its care. Some pets may wind up in other homes or in shelters after their original owners pass away.

A pet trust provides an alternate solution that can help to ensure that a beloved animal companion is cared for after its owner dies. This kind of trust can name a specific caregiver and create an obligation to care for the pet according to the owner’s wishes. In addition, the trust can provide a mechanism to disburse funds for the benefit of the pet and its care.

People who want to provide for their pets after they die can create instruments that allow them to protect their animals. An estate planning attorney can provide guidance and draft key documents to accomplish this.