When A Pet Owner Dies

Feb 20, 2021

Lucky dog!
Credit KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO [Facebook]

The late Bill Dorris wanted  his faithful dog, Lulu, to be with someone who loved her and would care for her.  The $5 million trust he left for Lulu's care will be managed by a conservator who will reimburse her caretaker for all expenses.  


Three months ago, Nashville businessman Bill Dorris died at the age of 83. He was survived by his eight-year-old Border Collie, Lulu. In his will, Mr. Dorris left $5 million in trust for his dog, naming Martha Burton, his neighbor and Lulu’s long-time sitter, to care for his faithful friend. With the resources provided through the trust, Martha said she will make sure Lulu is happy and loved.

Have you ever considered what would become of your pet if something should happen to you? While very few people have the resources to provide for a pet like Bill Dorris did for Lulu, most of us don’t make any provisions for our pets at all. Perhaps because their life spans are so much shorter than ours, we just expect to outlive our furry friends. Many of us have wills that provide for our families, and specify how our worldly goods are to be divided among our heirs, but rarely do they address what will happen to our surviving pets.

Unfortunately, such pets may end up in animal shelters, which is not what the owner would want at all. To prevent this from happening to your pet, make some specific arrangements ahead of time.

Find someone you can trust to take good care of your pet - maybe a family member, or a good friend. If you have several pets, you may seek out two or three people. Explain that you’re making arrangements “just in case”, and ask if they are willing to accept the responsibility for your pets, should something happen to you. Then write it all down. Include the name of the person who will care for each pet, how to contact them, and a description of the care you want your pet to receive. Give each person a copy, plus leave a copy in your home, to avoid confusion at a trying time.

And you might talk with your legal advisor about the best way to ensure your furry little friends won’t end up homeless if you’re no longer in the picture. There are also online resources available to help with planning for your pet’s care in your absence.

Remember that a good relationship is a lifetime commitment - their lifetime, when you’re speaking of pets.