This is an article for serious animal lovers. I don’t believe there has ever been a time in history when pets have been more loved. Pets have their own wardrobes, bedrooms, and some companies have been begun offering fur-ternity leave.
Many truly see pets as a member of their family. If you’re not in that crowd, life insurance for pet parents won’t make sense to you.
Questions pet owners ask about life insurance
Q: Does life insurance for pet parents allow me to name my pet as a beneficiary of my policy?
A: No, but you can name a trusted friend or family member as a beneficiary or a co-beneficiary of a policy with instructions on how to use the death benefit to care for your pet.
Q: Why is purchasing life insurance beneficial for ensuring my pet is taken care of after I die?
A: Life insurance payouts happen quickly after someone dies as they don’t go through probate.
You may stipulate pet provisions within your will. Depending on your will, it may go through probate, be subject to taxes, and be contested by parties with an interest in your estate, such as family members—especially if they don’t like your furbaby as much as you do.
Purchasing life insurance is a wise choice as the life insurance company has to distribute the death benefit to the people you name as your beneficiaries.
Unlike a will, a life insurance policy can’t be contested. So, your favorite canine, feline, or bovine is more likely to benefit from the death benefit money more quickly than if they have to wait for the dust of your estate to settle.
Q: What is the best type of life insurance for pet parents?
A: In general, the most affordable life insurance is term life insurance as you receive a greater coverage amount (policy face value) for less money (less monthly cost of your premium). This means you’ll have more funds now to care for your non-fur family and pets.
» Compare: Term life insurance quotes
Q: How much term life insurance coverage can I buy to secure my pet’s future?
A: It depends on the amount of coverage that you are approved for. If you’re naming your pet’s guardian as your beneficiary, once your application has been approved, you can choose to designate all (or a portion) of your death benefit to them.
You can have multiple beneficiaries named on one life insurance policy. So, you’re not limited to designating just your pet’s guardian, but can take care of your kids’ guardian, too. These might not be the same people. So, just know that your term life insurance policy can be set up to suit your needs.
Q: What’s the right amount of life insurance for parents of pets?
A: It depends on your lifestyle and your pet’s particular needs.
Here are a few questions to ask as you determine the amount of term life insurance to purchase:
- Does my pet have special needs that will require a trained caretaker? Elderly pets, pets with medical challenges, and large pets (such as horses) will increase the amount of the death benefit that their guardian must receive in order to meet your pet’s needs.
- Who will pay for my pet’s health insurance after I’ve passed on? Calculate the cost of premiums for your pet’s health insurance as you calculate your coverage requirements.
- Will my pet’s guardian move into my home? If you have chosen to allow your pet guardian to live in your home (horse farm, ranch, etc.) in order to care for your animals, then you may want to purchase enough term life insurance to cover any extra costs that they may incur in relocating.
- If my home is sold, will my chosen guardian have expenses related to maintaining my pet’s current lifestyle? Any potential vet expenses or costs for dog walker services could be factored in as you decide on a coverage amount to apply for.
- Will my term life insurance coverage be enough to get my pet the professional support they may need? Pet therapy, like that horse whisperer who works magic, may be expensive. It is important to make allowances when purchasing life insurance for pet parents in the event that your pet may need professional help to recover from your loss or needs extra care at the vet later in life.
- Are there enough funds to be sure that my pet will be cared for the way I would have wanted if their guardian travels or is unable to care for them? If your pet’s guardian travels or is suddenly unable to care for them, the financial burden of pet boarding can often be a significant challenge. If you have a preferred pet boarding service, or have a trusted friend (or family member) who can provide the best care for your pet, include these expenses when deciding on a coverage amount to purchase. You should also have multiple backup caregivers on your list to be certain that your pet always has a home.
Life Insurance for Parents of Pets & Pet Trust Law
Not having a will with explicit directions for the care of your pet is an oversight that even the most doting pet parents make.
If your dog has a butler, as 18th Century eccentric the Earl of Bridgewater’s twelve dogs did, then you should be certain to include that detail when dictating conditions of care.
When you’ve found a furry soul-mate, it is best to start right away on preparing for your pet’s long term needs.
Pet trusts are now legal in every state. Despite the legality of pet trusts, every state may have different methods of regulating them, and those laws may change over time.
For example, in Massachusetts and New York a court may reduce the amount of property left in a trust for a pet if it deems it to be substantially more than what is necessary to care for your pet. Per Massachusetts state law:
(c) A court may reduce the amount of property held by the trust if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use and the court finds that there will be no substantial adverse impact in the care, maintenance, health or appearance of the covered animal.
The problem, of course, is that the amount required for your pet’s care is up to the interpretation of the court. That’s why it’s critical to delineate as many expenses—current and future—to be able to justify the amount that you wish to leave for your pet.
If you can, work with a qualified attorney—one who understands and has experience working with life insurance policies for pet parents—to handle the establishment of your pet’s trust. Most likely you will also be setting up a trust to care for your children as well. So, you can vet one attorney for both care-giving (non-fur and fur baby) situations.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
It is useful to look at a sample from a model of the document your attorney may draw up from the New York Bar Association. We’ve broken cat or dog care trust down into steps:
Sample Testamentary Trust for the Care of Dogs and Cats
1. Know the exact amount that you want to leave for the care of your pets via term life insurance:
I give the sum of [_____ Thousand Dollars] ($_) and all of my dogs, cats, and any other animals of mine living at the time of my death to the trustee hereunder, IN TRUST, for the following purposes and subject to the following terms and conditions: This trust is created pursuant to New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 7- 8.1 for the benefit of all of my dogs, cats, and any other animals of mine living at the time of my death (the “Beneficiaries” herein).
2. Have a clear idea of the components of the care that you want your pet to receive:
The trust shall terminate upon the death of the last to die of the Beneficiaries. During the term of the trust, the trustee shall apply for the benefit of the Beneficiaries, any or all of the net income of the trust and however much or all of the principal of the trust from time to time, as the trustee shall in the trustee’s discretion determine to be advisable for the care, including veterinary care, of the Beneficiaries.
3. Determine what happens to the term life death benefit in the event that it goes unspent or reduced:
Any income accrued but not distributed for the benefit of the Beneficiaries shall be added to the principal of the trust.
4. Along with a trustee, find a backup caretaker who will step in if the original caretaker can’t fulfill their duties for any reason:
I appoint [name], presently residing at [address], to be the trustee of such trust. If such person has predeceased me or for any other reason is unable to act as such trustee, I appoint [name], presently residing at [address], to be the trustee of such trust. I designate [name], presently residing at [address], to be the caretaker of the Beneficiaries.
The trustee, in the trustee’s discretion, may pay a stipend from the trust to the person acting as such caretaker. I designate [name], presently residing at [address], as the person to enforce the trust, if necessary. If such person has predeceased me or for any other reason is unable to act in this capacity, I designate [name], presently residing at [address], as the person to enforce the trust, if necessary.
The language is clear, succinct, and focused on capturing all of the important components that relate to the care of your pet. Life insurance for parents of pets is a solution that can only provide the best care for your pet if you know their needs well.
Life Insurance for Pet Parents: How to Find the Right Term Life Policy
Once you’ve decided on creating a trust, you should look begin looking for a term life insurance policy.
Your first question, as we’ve discussed above, should be if you have enough to cover their future needs. If you answered our questions in the earlier section, then you should have a rough idea of the amount of coverage that may make sense. You can also use our life insurance needs calculator to get a more precise estimate.
Next, you can use our free life insurance quotes tool to compare premiums and amounts of term life coverage from leading insurance brands. You won’t have to enter any personal contact information to see your quotes. Just type in your birthdate, gender, zip code, and smoking status, and use the slider to determine how much coverage interests you; you’ll see a range of quotes instantly.
Once you’ve found a quote that you like, you can start your application. The entire process will take about five minutes and your pet’s future will be secure for many years to come.