Remember to include pets in wills

Published On: Jan 15 2013 07:13:48 AM CST

It is becoming more common to include pets in wills and trusts.  About one in five pet owners already have in writing what happens if their animals outlive them because the consequences for not doing so can be severe.

"If you haven't made any arrangements, there's a good possibility that your pet could end up in a shelter, and there's an even greater possibility that your pet could be euthanized for lack of finding a loving home," said Kim Bressant-Kibwe, who is a trust and estate counsel for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The ASPCA has recently teamed up with LegalZoom to provide the Pet Protection Agreement.

"It costs about $39 and what it allows you to do is to set out some very basic information about the care of your pet. You can name a guardian, a successive guardian," said Bressant-Kibwe.

You can not leave your pet part of your estate, but you can establish a trust fund to pay for future care.

"As final act of kindness, animals give us their undying, unlimited amounts of devotion, the least we can do is provide continuing care for them in the event something happens to us," said Bressant-Kibwe.

The ASPCA estimates 500,000 pet owners die or become incapacitated each year without leaving instructions on how to care for their pets.