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Does Your Estate Plan Include Your Pets?

Have you considered your pet or 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 ensure that that their wishes for their pets' long-term care won't be forgotten, misconstrued or ignored, The Humane Society has created a printable fact sheet, "Providing for Your Pet's Future Without You."  The five-page fact sheet, which is available in English and Spanish, provides sample legal language for including pets in wills and trusts, plus suggestions on protecting pets through a power of attorney.  

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 may neglect to plan for contingencies in which a will might not take effect, such as in the event of severe disability or a protracted will challenge.