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Protecting pets in estate plans

Many of us here in Brevard County are pet lovers. We wouldn't dream of taking a walk without our dog at our side or curling up on the couch without our cat on our lap.

Americans are increasingly interested in taking care of their pets in their estate plans, according to news reports. More and more people are leaving funds and other assets in wills and trusts for the loving care of their beloved pets.

People are sitting down with their estate planning attorney to map out plans for their pets. They are also writing out detailed instructions for the care of their furry friends and leaving significant sums to ensure that the care will be carried out for the rest of the pet's life.

A an advisor in a bank's wealth management unit says she's seeing more and more people making plans for their pets. Some of those making plans are older folks, of course, who might reasonably expect that they might not outlive their pets. Others, however, are young and single.

They haven't settled down yet. Because of the changes in the job market, they're mobile and often without deep roots where they currently live. Many are attached to their pets and know that there is no one else to care for their pet should the worst occur.

Securian Financial Group says in its survey of 903 pet owners. 44 percent have made written or verbal plans for their pets. Nearly half of those have made financial provisions for pet care with 73 percent leaving a cash gift for the designated pet caregiver.

"They're part of the family," said a Florida financial advisor. "If you care about them and you want to make sure they're taken care of, you have to have a contingency plan for them or else they end up at the Humane Society."

You can discuss pets and all other aspects of how you want to protect your loved ones and pass on your assets with a trusted estate planning attorney.

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