By Eve Kaplan
NEW YORK (AdviceIQ) -- Are you a good pet owner? Owning an animal means more than feeding it and loving it. Pets aren't cheap, so doing right by Fido or Tabby involves financial planning.
No question, we Americans love our pets. Many of us view our animal pals as family members, and we derive real physical and emotional benefits from owning them. We spend more than $60 billion per year on our pets and nearly two-thirds of our households have one or more pets.
Yet millions of unwanted pets are euthanized each year because pet owners did not make provisions for them when the owners became disabled, died or no longer could afford their animal companions.
With so much time, love and money invested in our pets, pet planning is prudent and responsible. Here are four areas to consider:Pet ownership and your overall financial plan. You're already ahead of the game if you engaged a financial adviser to write a plan for you. Aside from your personal and family requirements, your plan also should refer to your pets. In addition to food, pets may need toys, training, grooming, boarding, standard and acute veterinary care and burial or cremation. All of these things cost time and money. disability policy only covers individuals who have earned income, paying you part of your lost earnings because you can't work. If you're a pet owner, do you have sufficient coverage to care for you and your family and your pet if you acquire a disability? Estate plans that include pet trusts. As a good owner, you know that a pet may outlive you, so it's wise to make provisions that go beyond a simple will or informal handshake agreements with friends and family members. Wills are problematic since they can lack power of attorney provisions, appointing someone else to make legal decisions for you when you can't and don't cover pet care if an estate is stuck in probate, where a court oversees allocating assets to heirs -- or if the owner is still alive, but may be in the hospital and unable to care for a pet. A great resource for pet trusts is the Animal League, a no-kill shelter organization that can serve as custodian and trustee for pet trusts. Discuss adding provisions for your pet to your estate documents with your financial advisor and estate attorney. Given the millions of dollars we spend on pets, and the millions of unwanted pets that are euthanized, good planning just makes good sense. Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq. -- Eve Kaplan, CFP, is a fee-only adviser in Berkeley Heights, N.J., at Kaplan Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Adviser in New Jersey and New York. AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisers and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisers in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisers so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many adviser rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisers are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisers appear in rankings daily.