Pet owners often make informal plans with siblings or best friends about the fate of their pets after the owner passes away but these arrangements have no legal standing because, while some may view the pets as family members, the pets are property. Legally when a current owner passes away ownership of the pet will be determined by a will or the laws of intestate succession.
According to the Globe and Mail in "Estate planning: Is your dog or cat in the family will?" more and more people are choosing to make their pets part of their estate plans to get around this legal problem.
The easiest way to provide for your pet in an estate plan is to state in your will who is to get ownership of the pet. In addition, you can choose to leave a sum of money to that person for the care of your pet.
Alternatively, a more elaborate approach is to create a trust that can be funded with assets to provide for the pet. The trustee would then be responsible for ensuring those assets are used appropriately.
If you would like to provide for your pet after you pass away, the first step is a simple one. You do not have to start by deciding how to do it. All that you need to do is get an estate plan.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on the best way to protect pets.
Reference: Globe and Mail (March 10, 2016) "Estate planning: Is your dog or cat in the family will?"