Dog bounding up in the air

Pet care: our furbabys are spoiled. It’s not uncommon for people to spoil their furbabys; Instagram and other social media is littered with videos and pictures of people playing with their beloved Fidos and felines, pampering them, feeding them, and just enjoying their presence. (In fact, pets sometimes get receive better care than other humans.)

Is it any surprise that people want their pets to be taken care of when they die?

There are some people who love their dogs, cat (and by extension, birds and rabbits) more than anything in the world, and have a closer relationship with them over their human counterparts (we’ll get to some real-life examples later.) It’s an increasingly popular trend: leaving behind money and assets for the care of their non-human loved ones. It’s not so far fetched when you consider how much people pamper their dogs and cats already – in fact, it’s a testament to the deep bond people share with their furry companions.

The History of Pet Inheritances

Reasons for this increasing trend

Legal Considerations


History of Pet Inheritances

The concept of leaving money or assets to pets isn’t entirely new. In fact, it dates back centuries. Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula, for instance, left behind a substantial inheritance for his beloved horse, Incitatus. His horse was gifted with a complete with a marble stable, fine fodder, and a staff of servants (no word on how long the horse lived after his passing.) Then, there are the myriad of modern day stories: Leona Helmsley, for instance. And the late Karl Lagerfeld has a cat worth over $3 million dollars. The trend has gained momentum in recent years, with many pet owners treating their pets better than their human family members.

Reasons for the Trend

Several factors contribute to the rising popularity of leaving inheritances to pets:

1. Pets are like family (and are treated as such): Pets are often cherished as family members rather than animals (at least for dogs and cats, anyway.) This gives pets a status deserving of consideration in planning for their estate.

2. Concern for Their Well-being: Leaving a financial legacy to their pets ensures that they receive the care and attention they deserve, even in their owner’s absence.

3. No Heirs: People who are either childless or don’t have family members, people keep dogs or cats for company. They become as close to their owners as family. Leaving behind something to take care of their pets is a natural choice.

4. The Growth of Pet-Related Services: The pet industry has exploded in recent years, from pet spas, gourmet pet food, to pet therapists and luxury accommodations. With these services readily available, leaving an inheritance to pets becomes more feasible and practical. It really shows how much people love their pets and would do anything to take care of them.

While the idea of leaving inheritances to pets may be heartwarming, there are legal and practical aspects of these types of arrangements. In many provinces/territories, pets are legally regarded as property rather than as beneficiaries, which can make direct bequests challenging. To be fair, how would you directly pass on wealth to a pet? You would need someone else to look after the pet in question for you. Instead of inserting your wishes into a Will, you might want to look into a Pet Will, which allows you to comprehensively provide details for pet care after your passing.

A Pet Will allows you to legally set aside funds specifically for their pets’ care and designate a trustee responsible for managing the assets on behalf of the pets. Caregivers ensure that the pets receive the necessary care, and detailed instructions cover everything from food to medicine. It also includes any special instructions the pets might require for care.

Challenges and Controversies

Leaving inheritances to a dog or a cat is well-intentioned, but this process has it’s obvious challenges: some family members may dispute these arrangements in court, arguing that the funds should be allocated for human beneficiaries (this was the case for Leona Helmsley), rather than to pet care. There is also the sobering concern people have for their pets: will caregivers maintain care for the pets in question, or just run off with the money they were provided with for the pet’s care? Make sure ALL of your loved ones are taken care, with the right estate planning!

Cute dog with a yellow ball

Pet planning: as a pet owner, have you ever considered what would happen to your furry friend if you were suddenly unable to care for them? It’s an unsettling thought but one that has a solution: Pet Guardian Agreements. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these Agreements, from what they are to how they can provide peace of mind for pet owners.

What are Pet Guardian Agreements?

Essential to Estate Planning

How to create a Pet Agreement

When to create a Pet Agreement

What are Pet Guardian Agreements?

A Pet Guardian Agreement is a legal document that ensures your pet’s continuous care if something were to happen to you. These agreements specify who will take over the responsibility of your pet and the care that they’ll provide.

Pet Owner: “I love my dog, but I’m worried about who will take care of him if something happens to me. What can I do?”

Legal Expert: “A Pet Guardian Agreement is exactly what you need! It’s a legal document that outlines who will be the guardian of your pet and how they should care for your furry friend.”

Why Pet Guardian Agreements Are Essential

Pet Guardian Agreements serve as a critical part of estate planning for pet owners. They provide clarity, security, and assurance that your beloved animal companion will be taken care of by someone you trust.

Pet Owner: “I’m leaving for an extended vacation, and I want to ensure my cat is well-taken care of. Is a Pet Guardian Agreement suitable for this?”

Legal Expert: “Absolutely! Pet Guardian Agreements are perfect for temporary or permanent arrangements. They ensure that the chosen guardian understands and agrees to your pet’s specific care needs.”

How to Create an Agreement

Creating a Pet Guardian Agreement is a straightforward process, but it requires careful consideration and attention to detail.

1.Choose a Guardian: Select someone you trust who is willing and able to take care of your pet.

2. Outline Care Instructions: Detail the specific care needs, including feeding, exercise, medical treatment, and more.

3. Login to Using an email and password, login to to take you step by step through the process of creating your Pet Guardian Agreement (Pet Will).

4. Sign and witness: Both parties should sign the agreement, and it may be wise to have it witnessed for extra legal protection.

Pet Owner: “I have two dogs with different needs. Can I have different guardians for each?”

Legal Expert: “Yes, you can have separate agreements for each pet, tailored to their specific needs and preferences. A Pet Guardian Agreement offers flexibility to suit your unique situation.”

When to Consider Creating a Pet Guardian Agreement

A Pet Guardian Agreement is suitable for various scenarios, including:

  • Long-term travel or relocation.
  • Serious illness or disability.
  • Elderly pet owners who may become unable to provide care.
  • Those without close family or friends to assume pet responsibility.

Pet Owner: “My sister is willing to be the guardian of my bird. Can I include financial support in the agreement?”

Legal Expert: “Certainly! You can stipulate financial provisions to assist the guardian with the costs of caring for your pet, ensuring that they have the necessary resources.”

Pet Guardian Agreements offer a solution to a concern that many pet owners face. They provide a legal and practical framework to ensure that your pet’s care continues seamlessly if you become unable to provide it.

Remember, a Pet Guardian Agreement is not only a legal formality but an act of love and responsibility towards your pet. It guarantees that your cherished animal companion will continue to receive the care, love, and attention they deserve, no matter what life may bring.

If you’re interested in setting up a Pet Guardian Agreement or have more questions, don’t hesitate to visit They can help you tailor an agreement that perfectly suits your pet’s needs.

In the words of a satisfied pet owner: “The Pet Guardian Agreement gave me peace of mind, knowing that my best friend is in safe hands. It’s a must for every responsible pet owner.” Use to assist with your pet planning needs.