When planning their estates, one thing that Washington residents often forget about is their pets. Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of all Americans own at least one pet, animals are often overlooked in estate plans. If you fail to plan, your furry companion could end up in a shelter or worse. To ensure that their pets receive the right kind of care, individuals should consider these four suggestions.

The first is setting up a pet trust. Through a pet trust, owners can specify who will care for their animals if they die. It will also provide the funds for the person to do so. A durable power of attorney goes a step further by allowing a named individual to provide medical care for another person’s pets. A durable power of attorney can also be used while someone is still alive but needs another person to act make decisions on his or her behalf. An example would be when an individual is hospitalized or away on business.

Pet care instructions will help the person charged with care be aware of any special needs an animal might have. These instructions can be as detailed as needed and may include things such as a pet’s favorite foods or toys. Finally, including some information about your pets on a wallet card will alert emergency personnel that there are animals at home that require tending to.

When considering asset protection, pet owners could benefit from speaking with an estate attorney. Through a lawyer, they might ensure that the right documents are in place to ensure that their pets continue receiving care if they pass away or become disabled.