Frequently Asked Questions


What will happen to my pets if I am unable to care for them and have not made other arrangements for their care?

Without a proper plan in place for the future care of your pets, they are at risk of an uncertain future, perhaps without a loved one to care for them. Thus, it is important to create a plan now to ensure that your pet is always cared for. Sign up here for a FREE Pet Planning Packet to get started on a future care plan for your pet.

What options do I have when arranging for the future care of my pet?

Please see our analysis of informal vs. formal arrangements to decide which option works best for you and your pet.

What precautions can I take regarding my pet in the event of an emergency?

For information on creating a disaster plan for your pet, please see our Disaster Preparedness page.

What information should I provide the designated guardian and/or caretaker of my pet?

The ASPCA recommends creating a Pet Portfolio with pertinent information about your pet. Even if you don’t have a plan in place for the future care of your pet, this information is vital to helping your pet find a new home faster. Request a FREE Pet Planning Packet, which includes the Pet Portfolio.

As a multiple pet owner, can my pets stay together in the event of my hospitalization or death?

If you are an owner of more than two pets, it may not always be realistic for a single person to care for all of your animals. It is therefore extremely important for you to plan ahead, particularly if you want them to remain together. Please see our analysis of informal vs. formal arrangements for more information on the various options available for the future care of your pets.

What if I do not have any friends or family willing to act as a potential guardian and/or caretaker for my pet in my absence?

Consider becoming familiar and active with your local humane society or other rescue groups operating in your area. Often, local animal welfare organizations will be willing to help place an animal if they have sufficient notice that a person lives alone or has no one to care for a pet if something happens to them. Please avoid instructions for the euthanasia of adoptable animals. There is someone who can love your pet as much as you do!

Can I put a provision for the care of my pet in my will?

Yes, it is possible to include a provision for the care of a pet in your will, however the ASPCA does not recommend this approach because any delay in administering your estate could spell trouble for your pet. However, a gift in a will can be a good way to get money to your chosen caregivers. For other options, please see our analysis of informal vs. formal arrangements for further explanation.

What is a Pet Trust?

A pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement providing for the care of pets in the event of a grantor’s disability or death. The grantor is the person who creates the trust, which may take effect during his or her life or at death. For more information on pet trusts, please see our Pet Trust Primer article and our State Laws Chart.

Is there a limit to the amount of money I can leave my pets?

Generally no, however your state may have certain limitations on pet trust funding. See our State Laws Chart for more information. Although it is not necessary to leave any money for the care of your pet, we recommend considering a gift to cover your pets’ future costs to ease the burden on a future caregiver. Please see our Funding Dos and Don’ts for further explanation.

How do I plan for the future care of a pet with a long lifespan?

Please see our Planning for the Future Care of Equines and Exotics if you are the owner of a pet with a long lifespan. A Pet Trust may be a good option for expensive pets or those with long life spans.

Are there pet retirement homes?

Yes. There are several pet retirement homes sponsored by schools for veterinary medicine and others that are privately operated. As a pet guardian, you must make a decision as to which situation works best for you. Do your homework and thoroughly investigate all possibilities, especially the organization you ultimately select.

Get started making a plan for your pets with our FREE Pet Planning Packet.