Resource Centre: What Goes Inside your Will

The Responsibility and Care of Pets after Death - Pet Guardian

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Animals and pets are often overlooked or forgotten when drafting a Will, maybe because they weren’t in the picture at the time of drafting, or it simply didn’t cross your mind. In any circumstance, pets are a member of your family and will need care in the unfortunate circumstance they are left alone.

The Pet Guardian

A pet guardian is appointed in the Will to be the person who will take care of the pet after its owner passes away. Generally, most people will have an idea of who they would like to fill this role or assume that family may volunteer to do it however, this isn’t always the reality. Having a candid conversation with family or friends about who will become the pet guardian can save both headaches and suffering for both the people close to you and your beloved friend.

What Does the Pet Guardian Do?

In short, they will take care of your pet after you pass away. This may seem like a small task because you’ve become accustomed to pet ownership, but in reality, this is a significant responsibility for anyone to take on. Remember, a pet is still an animal, which requires food, care, exercise, and vet visits among various things. The Guardian will also need to:
- Train the animal,
- Make sure they get the right amount of exercise,
- Make a space for them in their home,
- And cover the various expenses that come with that animal.

It’s always important to remember that in Canada, pets are considered property, so while the name might be similar, the rules for guardians of children do not apply.

Things to Keep in Mind

Whether electing or being elected as a pet guardian, it’s important to remember that there is significant responsibility involved with the role. Both financially and physically. If you have a pet and are considering electing someone as its guardian, always make sure to have a candid conversation about it with the individual in mind. That way you can be open about the responsibilities and commitment required. Doing so will give both yourself, and the potential guardian time to prepare, and consider if that person is right and ready.