What happens to your pet once you have passed away?

An increasing number of pet owners are taking measures to ensure that their beloved pets are cared for not only in life, but after the owner’s death as well.

Famed American businesswoman Leona Helmsley died in 2007 at the age of 87, she left a $12 million dollar trust fund to care for her Maltese, named Trouble (although the amount was later deemed ‘excessive’ and a judge allowed re-appropriation of the funds, leaving a mere $2 million to care for Trouble). Helmsley also left a general trust fund to benefit dogs in need. That trust fund now has a value of up to $8 billion USD.

Every year, millions of companion animals are euthanized worldwide due to shelter overcrowding and limited animal shelter funding. Pets who are middle aged or seniors are often most prone to euthanasia, as it’s harder to find homes for these animals. It’s difficult to think about your beloved pet being euthanized because you’re no longer alive to care for him.

But that no longer needs to be the case, as many pet owners are now setting up trusts and other funding sources to help ensure that their pets are well-cared for, right up until the end. This is especially important for horses, birds and exotics with a long life expectancy, as many can live for decades after their owner dies.

The web is home to a wide range of different resources for pet owners who wish to ensure their pets are well-cared for after they pass away. But it’s important to speak with an estate planner in your region, as each country’s estate planning requirements are unique.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a number of resources for pet owners who need more information as they consider how to ensure their dogs, cats, birds, horses and other animals are cared for after the owner’s death.