Brenda Lyle – Florida Today

Q:  What Happens to my Pets if I Die?

A:  There’s no doubt about it: Pets are part of our families and they hold a special place in our hearts and lives. So it’s not surprising older pet owners worry about what might happen to their pets if they are hospitalized or pass away. Fortunately, there are resources for seniors and their pets.

 What if I am in the hospital?                    

On, owners can find pet sitters to take your pet into their home –or visit your home each day. Long-term boarding might be an option for an extended hospital stay. Pet fostering programs can also be considered for long periods in (for example) a rehabilitation facility.

How do I plan for my pet if I pass away?

There is a specialty branch of law called “Animal Law.” Attorneys like Orlando’s Peggy Hoyt can create a “pet trust” that provides for the pet after the owner’s death. According to the Florida Bar Association, “It is undeniable that many people treat their pets as relatives, and often care about their pets as much as the human members of their family. Pet trusts provide pet lovers the peace of mind that comes with knowing one’s pet will be loved and cared for throughout its life.”

Ms. Hoyt is the author of All My Children Wear Fur Coats: How to Leave a Legacy to Your Pet, an informative book for pet owners, available on for $19.95. Her weekly “paw-cast” of the same name features different guests and explores all of the joys and sorrows of pet parenting.

Hoyt suggests creating a notebook with instructions for the designated “pet caregiver” as a crucial first step in planning for your pet’s care. Pets cannot legally inherit things, so taking the extra steps to create a “Stand Alone Pet Trust” is important for providing financial support for your pet.

According to the website, “Only a Pet Trust provides for a Pet Caregiver, a Pet Care Panel and a Trustee. Each person or organization fills a different role in the lifetime care of your pet.”

The website notes the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando and a growing number of other perpetual care organizations can also provide lifetime care for your pet. Hoyt herself has founded Animal Care Trust USA (, a not for profit organization that offers a number of solutions designed to provide pet parents with long-term care options for their loved pet.

For more information about pet planning, contact One Senior Place or the Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.