What happens to my pet(s) when I die?

If you have pets, from time to time you may wonder what would happen to them in the event of your death. Usually those thoughts are quickly pushed aside as too painful to think about.

The choices that immediately come to mind are:

1. Do nothing and leave their fate up to providence.

2. Set up a trust to care for them per your specifications.

3. Leave them in the care of a trusted family member or friend.

4. Have them humanely euthanized and let them accompany you to the next world like the Pharaohs of old.

Of course there are pros and cons to each of these options and the choice is further complicated depending upon the number, age, and expected life span of your pet(s).

Probably the most common is doing nothing. This option places an unfair burden upon the person handling your estate. Maybe they’ll find a wonderful home. More likely they will end up in a shelter competing with all the other homeless animals, potentially facing euthanization. Pleas for pets seeking homes after their owner dies are not uncommon.

If you are financially able, you may choose to set up a trust and specify your wishes in your will. (It is important to note that without a will pets are considered part of the estate and go to next of kin, regardless of your wishes.) In this way you can provide for your pet(s) for the remainder of their lives. You can specify the exact care they are to be given. There is still no guarantee that they will thrive without you, but at least you will have done everything in your power to provide for their well being.

Designating a trusted family member or friend to assume the responsibility may be an option if that person is ready, willing, and able to take on such a responsibility. But what happens if the pet(s) outlive this person or if their circumstances change?

I have heard more than one person state that it is their intent to have their pet(s) euthanized in the event of their (the owner’s) death. Having considered the above-mentioned options and their associated pitfalls, they have concluded that this is the best way to ensure their pet(s) well being. However, this option requires finding a vet willing to euthanize pets regardless of their age and physical state. You should also know that your request may not be legally enforceable.

There simply is no “right” or “perfect” choice. In fact the “right” choice may differ from one pet to another. So what is a caring pet owner to do?

As an animal communicator the most natural option that comes to mind is: Talk to them about your concerns and find out if they have a preference.

You may be surprised at their answers. Animals view death as simply a transition, as opposed to humans who mostly fear their inevitable passing.

Your pet(s) may not want to live without you. How many times have you heard about pets who die shortly after their owners? On the other hand, your pet(s) may not be finished with this life experience and would prefer to take their chances at finding a new, loving home. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. Plus you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your pet(s) were included in the decision-making process.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or to assist you in communicating with your pet(s).

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4 Responses to “What happens to my pet(s) when I die?”

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