Counting the number of pets just here in the Houston area would more than likely take a significant amount of time. There are probably tens of thousands of pets living in the area, if not more. Pet owners tend to love them as part of the family, but some may forget to account for their care when estate planning.

Every time a Houston pet owner leaves the home, his or her pets are on their own. What happens to them if an accident occurs that prevents the owner from returning that day? An accident could require hospitalization, and depending on the severity of the individual’s injuries, it could be for some time. If the worst happens and the pet owner dies, someone needs to know that there are animals in the home that need care.

Protecting pets from these scenarios involves numerous steps. The first is for an individual to put a card in his or her wallet alerting emergency responders that pets are home alone. A person’s contact information should be included on the card so that he or she can temporarily care for the animals in the owner’s absence. That same person could serve as the forever caretaker of the animals in the case of death, but it is important to discuss this with him or her ahead of time. Not everyone in the family may want to take in pets upon the death of their owners.

Another available estate planning tool is a pet trust. This type of trust could be funded to handle the monetary needs of the animals. It could include instructions regarding the pets’ dietary and veterinary needs, among other things. As is the case with any other trust, it would be wise to consult with an attorney to help ensure that it contains any legally required language and is executed in accordance with Texas law.