Anyone who has pets knows that they’re a part of your family and provide a lifetime of love and companionship.

But being a responsible pet owner goes beyond the day-to-day care of your animal.

You have to consider the possibility of a life-changing circumstances that leave you incapable of caring for your pet, and what happens if your pet outlives you.

Pet parents can establish pet trusts and estate planning. There are legal options to consider.

“If you really want to set aside some funds, you can create a fund inside a trust and have money managed for the pet guardian," explained Matt Osborne from Desert Schools Financial Services. "A basic will, a separate bank account for the guardian.”

Osborn also encourages you to have a list identifying the pet guardian(s) and information about the pet.

If you are unable to find someone willing to take your pet, there are other options to prevent your pet going through a public county facility or shelter.

Helping pets that outlive their owners is what Gilbert's Furever Friends Rescue is all about. They help those in need surrender their pets before they’re unable to care for them.

“So many people that live in Arizona are retirees, they’ve move away and their families haven’t necessarily moved with them, so there’s no one here to help them out,” said Nancy Seyfferle, president of Furever Friends Rescue.

The rescue is 100 percent nonprofit, helping to reduce the number of intakes and euthanasia in Maricopa and Pinal counties. Since opening four years ago, they have managed to adopt out over 1,500 dogs and cats and helped over 300 families.

Furever Friends Rescue does not charge for animal surrender. Pets must be vetted, spayed and neutered with up-to-date vaccines.

A little planning goes a long way to giving yourself peace of mind. Make decisions before you have to and ensure your pet's happiness even if it’s not with you.