Many Washington residents are meticulous in getting every detail right in their estate planning when it involves their children, grandchildren and other relatives. People also spend a great deal of time ensuring their wishes are known in case they become incapacitated. However, it can be easy to forget your pets. You consider your pets members of your family, and you may assume your loved ones will step in and take care of your pets if you die or are no longer able to care for them.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals points out that many dogs, cats and other pets are forgotten, mistreated or become homeless if their owners pass away or are taken to nursing facilities. How can you keep this from happening to your beloved pets? You may consider including a pet trust in your estate planning.

Like other trusts, the funds you put into a pet trust are for a specific purpose. You can include instructions on veterinary care, your preferred brands of food for your animals, special medical needs and other issues that are important for your pets’ well-being. You may even advise your pets’ new guardians on exercise schedules and their favorite toys and treats. You will also want to designate your first, second and third choices for whom you entrust to care for your pets should they outlive you. It is also a good idea to speak with these people about your wishes, so they will be prepared or able to decline.

As with other estate planning matters detailed in this blog, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.