Can You Leave a Sum of Money Directly to Your Pet in Your Will?

Under Massachusetts law, you cannot leave money directly to a pet.  A legacy in a will has to be received to be effective. A pet is considered to be personal property, not a person or entity, and cannot receive funds.  If you tried to leave funds directly to the pet in your will, under Massachusetts law the legacy would be null and void, and those funds would pass to the persons or entity inheriting the residue of your estate. 

The alternative to leaving a legacy to the pet is to leave the legacy to a person, but, without a Massachusetts Pet Trust in place, the person receiving the legacy would have no legal obligation to use those funds for the pet. 

Even if the person receiving the legacy has the best of intentions, the person can become disabled, be successfully sued or die, and the funds would then not be available for the pet’s future care.

Posted by: Brian E. Barreira, Esq. / 18 Samoset Street, Plymouth, MA 02360 / 508-747-8282

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