Estate Planning and Pets—Frequently Asked Questions
Seattle Humane's Pet Guardian Program
Question: The lifetime enrollment fee for a household is $1,000. Will this cover only the animals I have now, and will I need to pay again if I get additional pets?
Answer: This enrollment fee will cover up to five companion animals in your household at the time of your death. This includes dogs, cats and small critters. If you have farm animals, horses or other livestock, please be sure to make other arrangements for them since they are not included in our adoption program.
Question: If I name Seattle Humane's Pet Guardian Program (PGP) as the secondary name in case the first person I identify in my will or trust is unable or unwilling to care for my animals, do I need to pay the enrollment fee up front?
Answer: No, you may include conditional language in your will or trust stating that if the person/people you have identified to provide care are unable to do so, the animals in your household are to be enrolled in PGP upon your death. The enrollment fee will need to be paid by your estate or your heirs. However, some time may pass between your death and when the enrollment fee is paid by your estate or heirs, during which the animals may not necessarily be cared for. To ensure the animals receive care and are immediately taken into the PGP, we suggest that the fee be paid up front.
Question: I would like to enroll in the program, but I cannot pay the $1,000 in one lump sum. Is there a way to pay over time?
Answer: Yes, our staff can work with you to come up with a payment plan over time.
Question: If I enroll in the program but do not end up needing it, can I get a refund?
Answer: No. We will still offer you microchipping and services at the time of your enrollment. Because we are not offering substantial material benefits at the time of your enrollment, the $1,000 fee will be considered a charitable contribution (minus any microchipping fees).
Question: If PGP is named as the secondary caretaker of a pet trust, and becomes the caretaker in the case that the primary caretaker is unable to serve, what happens to the funds in the trust?
Answer: We will work with your legal counsel to ensure your wishes are followed. If you would like the funds to go to Seattle Humane to benefit companion animals, please be sure to use our legal name and federal tax identification number in your documents (The Humane Society for Seattle/King County, Tax ID# 91-0282060). If you wish for the funds from the trust to be distributed from your estate to the person who adopts your pet(s), please indicate that in your trust documents. Please note that you should also designate a remainder beneficiary for your trust. This beneficiary may be any person or charitable organization you name.
Question: Can I designate that my pet will go straight into foster care instead of going through the shelter?
Answer: All animals who go through PGP will be evaluated when they arrive at Seattle Humane by the veterinary staff, behavior team and adoption department to determine immediate steps. If medical care is needed, the animal will be provided care. If the animal is healthy and adoptable, it will be placed into the adoption program. Your desires set forth on the enrollment form will be honored as reasonably possible, including placing your pets directly into foster care.
Question: If I die and my heirs who will care for my pet or pet caretaker as determined by the will are unable to take the pet immediately, can Seattle Humane help in the interim?
Answer: Seattle Humane no longer offers boarding services for dogs. In the event that temporary care of the pet is needed, please contact your preferred pet sitter or boarding facility and make sure your will designates your wishes. Your estate and heirs will be responsible for the charges incurred. The only way Seattle Humane can help in this situation is if you have named PGP as the secondary pet caretaker and have paid the enrollment fee up front (see the second question of this FAQ sheet).
Question: What if I change my mind and decide to leave my animal to someone else?
Answer: Membership in PGP entitles you to the program services but does not require that you use these services. However, the membership fee is not refundable should you change your plans.