Does your estate plan include your pets?

Have you considered your pets when planning your estate? If not, you should, according to the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization. “Since pets have shorter life spans, people don’t think to include them in their estate plans,” says Anne Culver, Director of Disaster Services for the Society. “But animals left homeless when an owner has failed to make adequate provisions for their care are distressingly common in animal shelters around the country.”

To help pet owners, the Humane Society has created a free kit, “Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You.” The kit features a six-page fact sheet with ideas for protecting pets through wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. In addition, there are recommendations for choosing emergency and permanent caregivers, wallet alert cards for emergency personnel, emergency decals and caregiver information forms. The fact sheet is available in English and Spanish.

The Humane Society says that all too often, people erroneously assume that a long-ago verbal promise from a friend, relative or neighbor to provide a home for a pet will be sufficient years later. Even conscientious individuals who include their pets in their wills often neglect to plan for contingencies in which a will might not take effect, such as a severe disability.

For a free copy of the kit, go to