If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I live with two dogs (both of whom are quite adorable). So it seems natural to me to ask my clients whether they have pets, and if they know what will happen to those pets after they’re gone.

This is an easy question for some people. They have a child or relative that they know will take care of their pet. For others it’s more difficult; either they don’t have someone they can think of, or their pet is particularly difficult and they know it will cause trouble for its new owner.

I would encourage you, if you have a pet, to give this matter some thought. There are a number of unpleasant fates for a pet whose new owner doesn’t truly want it. Check with the person you have in mind to make sure that they can and will take care of your pet the same way you currently do (though if your dog is used to home-cooked meals every day, you may have to choose a different standard).

You may also want to consider giving the new owner some money for the pet’s care. Food and veterinary bills can add up, and it can ease the burden to have some money given specifically for that purpose. Some people even set up a trust for their pet, to make sure the money goes to the pet’s care and isn’t spent on something else.

If you’re in the position of administering an estate that includes a pet, and you have no directions and no likely candidates for the pet’s care, there are alternatives to the local pound. Rescue agencies abound; nearly every popular dog breed has its own rescue organization. If the animal was purchased from a breeder, it’s very likely the breeder will take it back. And you can always check with the deceased person’s friends and family to see if there’s anyone interested in taking ownership of the pet.

But the best route is still to make the plan now, so your administrator doesn’t have to look into these alternatives (or worse, choose not look into them at all). If you would like help figuring this plan out, or putting it into action, you are welcome to email me at kaway@kawaylaw.com.