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Sandy reminds Americans to include pets in estate plans

Though Florida did not experience devastation as a result of SuperStorm Sandy, the Sunshine State is no stranger to natural disasters and severe weather. When Mother Nature is cruel rather than kind, property can be damaged, people can be injured and pets can be left stranded.

In preparation for the next great natural disaster, it is important to have an emergency plan in place for your family and your pets. In addition, it is critical to have all your estate planning documents executed in the event that something should unexpectedly happen to you. If you have pets at home, it is important not to forget about their needs when drafting your estate plan.

The ASPCA has estimated that more than 100,000 household pets are placed in shelters every year because their owners either suddenly become unable to care for their pets or they pass away. Ensuring that you address your pets in your estate planning will help them avoid this fate.

In your estate plan, you can address guardianship issues, leave instructions for how your pet is to be cared for and allocate money for your pet's care. Without these instructions, your pet may end up in a shelter or in the care of someone you would prefer he or she does not reside with.

Less than 20 percent of Americans currently address the needs of their pets in their estate plans. For the sake of your pets, it is important that you are among the few who do so.

Source: Today, "Superstorm showed need for estate planning for pets," Jacoba Urist, Nov. 12, 2012

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