Pets and Your Estate Plan

Have you ever worried about what would happen to your animals after your death? Would there be someone willing to step in to love and care for your pet? Can you name a pet as a beneficiary in your Will?

For most, our pets are like our “children”, and just as we would ensure our estate plan covers the care of our “human” kids, so might we want to provide for our furry, four legged ones. Can pets be a part of an estate plan in the state of Georgia? The answer is yes. One way to provide for your animals is by leaving a specific bequest within your Will or by establishing a Pet Trust — in both scenarios you would be providing direction and funds in which to facilitate your pet’s continual care.

Specific Bequest for Your Pet Within Your Will: Just as you might choose to name a beneficiary within your Will to receive your jewelry, a beneficiary can also be named to take responsibility of the care of your pet. One example is to name a specific individual to receive your pet(s) upon your death, along with a sum of money for their care. Another example is to not name an individual, but rather, state that whomever agrees to care for your pets shall receive a sum of money. In either of these examples, the term “care” should be defined, and the specific amount of money should be determined based on the pet’s life expectancy and specific needs.

Pet Trust: A Pet Trust is usually established as part of your Will (i.e., a testamentary trust after your death). Your Will would state that a sum of money shall be held in trust for the lifetime benefit of your pet(s). If this type of trust is right for your estate plan, then there are several questions to be considered. Which of your pets shall be covered? Whom shall you name to care for your pets? What amount of money should be left in trust for their care? What happens to any remaining money after your pet’s death? These are just some of the items to be considered when providing for your animals within your estate plan. Consult an estate planning attorney for a better understanding of how a Pet Trust works.

Providing for your pets after you’re gone can bring a sense of peace, knowing that they will be cared for in the manner that they were accustomed to during your life. For more information on a specific bequest for your pet or a Pet Trust, please contact Bryson Law Firm, P.C. at (404) 909-8842 or email

Bryson Law Firm, P.C.: Suwanee, Georgia. Attorney Richard Bryson has over 15 years experience with investment entities, elder law, estate planning, probate, wills and trusts, tax planning, tax dispute resolution, asset protection, personal injury, business formation and governance, real estate transactions, and Medicaid and VA planning. Contact our Gwinnett County law firm at 404-909-8842 or