Why can’t you name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary


quick Facts

  • The beneficiary life insurance rules state that you cannot name a pet, minor children, or your own property as beneficiaries
  • You can purchase pet insurance to cover the injuries or death of a pet, but animals cannot receive death benefits if their owner dies
  • Your specified life insurance beneficiary or a close relative will inherit your pet as part of your estate if you do not have a pet trust or pet directives clause in your will

What happens to your pets when they die? You can leave instructions to help care for your animals after passing, but why not name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary?

Because animals are considered property by law, they cannot legally own property, making it impossible for pets to inherit life insurance death benefits. It is also impossible for pet owners to purchase dog or cat life insurance policies from any company for the same reason.

So, how do you get life insurance on a dog or other furry friend?

There are many alternatives to purchasing life insurance for a dog or cat. For example, you could write directions for pets in your will or set up a trust fund to set aside money for pet care after passing. You can also name a sponsor for your animal as a life insurance beneficiary.

This guide discusses How does life insurance work And all the ways you can protect your pets after your death. It covers the reasons why you cannot name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary and what happens to the pet if it dies without a trust or pet insurance.

Why can’t you name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary

If you have a life insurance policy, your insurance company will pay the death benefit to the named beneficiaries at the time of your death.

Death benefits vary based on the type of life insurance you have, but most beneficiaries receive between $50,000 and $500,000 to cover burial, funeral, and other associated costs. Learn more about death benefits and beneficiaries in helping us Life insurance terminology and definitions guide.

However, pets cannot be life insurance beneficiaries.

State laws recognize animals as property, making it impossible for pets to own land, open bank accounts, or receive any type of death benefit or inheritance.

Alternatively, pet owners can set up trusts or write clauses in their wills dedicated to the continued care of their animals after they die.

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How to buy pet life insurance

If you’re wondering if you can put out a dog’s life insurance, you still have options.

It’s true that some animals have life coverage, but these policies are designed for zoo animals, champion show dogs and horses, and work or performance animals. The policy pays a type of pet insurance death benefit if the animal is stolen, dies, or is injured during a covered event. However, the animal does not receive any benefits upon the death of its owner.

Instead of purchasing a life insurance policy for dogs, cats, or other pets, consider the following:

  • Designation of the caregiver as the beneficiary: Since pets cannot receive death benefits, you can designate an administrator and name your life insurance beneficiary. Leave instructions on how you want the pet care death benefit.
  • Create a Pet Trust: Leave a trust fund for your pet to cover the costs of care if they pass unexpectedly or become unable to care for them. Consider their age and potential for disease when deciding how much to leave behind.
  • Naming a pet in your will: Including a pet clause in your will ensures that your animal is cared for by the person you choose. Be as specific as possible in your pet care directions, and be sure to include your pet’s name, breed, and the full legal name of the guardian.

Whichever method you choose, you will have to appoint a trustee to receive the funds. For example, if you set up a pet trust, you will appoint a trustee to receive funds on behalf of your pet.

Choose a trustee who you trust and who preferably has an existing relationship with the animal. If you do not list a person, your pet will likely go to the named beneficiaries as an asset of your estate.

Learn more about How to choose a life insurance beneficiary less.

How to choose a life insurance beneficiary

Life insurance death benefits are designed to cover funeral costs and unpaid debts or future investments, such as a college education and retirement funds. This is why many people name spouses or other family members as life insurance beneficiaries.

Why can’t you name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary? The simple answer is that animals do not have bank accounts and are not legally able to inherit or own property.

In general, you want to choose a life insurance beneficiary that you trust to support your final wishes and be financially responsible enough to manage your possessions, including any pets you leave behind.

If you don’t name the beneficiary, the company will take that into consideration Your closest relatives as your life insurance The beneficiary, based on the insurance laws where you live. In most states, the next of kin is your spouse or oldest child, but other states allow a spouse to receive a death benefit regardless of being named as a beneficiary.

In either case, your named beneficiary or next of kin will inherit your pet as part of your estate if you do not have a pet trust will clause or pet directives.

What to know about pet life insurance

Why you can’t name your pet as a life insurance beneficiary is based on state insurance law. Pets are recognized as property and are not legally able to receive death benefits or any form of inheritance.

Some pet owners may get a death benefit if they insure a working animal or show animal, but most insurance benefits for cats, dogs, and other pets are left to guardians or guardians.

For example, you could set up a trust for a pet or list the animal’s trustee as a life insurance beneficiary to ensure there will be money to care for it after you pass.

Generally, life insurance beneficiaries are spouses, adult children, or a close friend or family member that you trust to manage your estate after your death. When it comes to pets, we recommend adding a pet directives clause to your last will and testament that formally states where the animal will go and how it will be cared for.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get life insurance for my dog ​​or other pet?

No, you cannot name pets as life insurance beneficiaries or purchase pet life insurance. However, as an alternative, you can leave the life insurance to your pet’s caregiver or family member who takes care of the animal if she dies unexpectedly.

Can a pet inherit my 401(k)?

No, pets cannot inherit a 401(k) or other retirement funds, but you can set up a pet trust to determine how much money you want to leave behind for pet care.

Can anyone benefit from a life insurance policy?

Most life insurance companies have rules against naming pets, minor children, or real estate as beneficiaries. Moreover, leaving death benefits to these entities is impossible because no one can legally open a bank account or own real estate.

What happens when a pet owner dies without pet or life insurance?

If you die without pet directives in your will, your pet will most likely go to your life insurance beneficiaries or heirs as your estate asset.

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Editorial Tips: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective third party source for all things life insurance. We update our website regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Rachel Brennan has been in the insurance industry since 2006 when she started working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she held her property and casualty license in all 50 states. Several years later, she expanded her expertise in the insurance field, earning a license in health insurance and AD&D insurance as well. I worked for a small health in…

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Rachel Brennan
Licensed insurance agent
Rachel Brennan

Benjamin Carr has worked as a licensed insurance agent at State Farm and Tennant Special Risk. He sold various lines of coverage and advised his clients about their life, health, and property/accident insurance needs. Assessing risk and helping people find the best coverage for their needs is his passion. He appreciates that insurance is designed to protect people, especially in times of…

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Benjamin Carr

Former state farm insurance agent

Benjamin Carr



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