It is natural for pets to feel like members of the family. Therefore, it makes sense to prepare accommodations for your furry companion as you develop an estate plan.

You may not realize you need to include a pet in your will, especially if you are still fairly young. However, if something were to happen to you, would your dog or cat have someone to look after it? You need to be cognizant of the needs of your pet and loved ones, so always have a contingency plan ready.

Talk to loved ones first

You do not want to surprise one of your beneficiaries with a pet. Some people are more than happy to take on the responsibilities while others simply cannot afford to look after an animal. You do not want a pet to be a surprise to anyone, so talk to your loved ones to see who would want to care for your pet. If you do not, then there is a good chance your furry friend could end up in a shelter.

Establish a pet trust

One route to take is to establish a special trust for your pet. This is a legal document where the person looking after the pet can face a lawsuit if he or she fails to meet the responsibilities. Typically, you will include a specific amount of money every month for the person to pay for the pet. You can state how much money to give the person upon the animal’s death.

Update the will

Life can change in an instant. Over the years, you may acquire new pets who need someone to look out for them upon your death. Additionally, you need to take into account if the beneficiary is no longer capable of looking after the pet or does not survive you. You should consider having an alternate beneficiary to look after your pet, if necessary.