Why is estate planning for the care of pets important?
Twenty-five years ago, when I was in law school, it was my perception that planning for the care of animals was not considered important, and was not taken seriously. But since then, there has been a dramatic change–the importance that we as a society place on our relationship with the animals with whom we share our lives is now being recognized. We only have to follow the stories in the news of persons living in the path of hurricanes and floods who refuse to be evacuated without their animals. We all saw this after Hurricane Katrina. A survey by the American Animal Hospital Association found that the majority of pet owners would risk their own lives for their pets. The results of this survey confirm what many of us already know. Our companion animals are being considered less and less as property and more and more as beloved family members. No wonder then that persons with dogs, cats, birds and other companion animals want to assure that their animals are well-cared for after the owner’s death. But if a pet owner does not plan for the continuing care of his or her pets, those pets could end up at a shelter or on the streets after the owner dies.