Maybe you heard that Joan Rivers left a portion of her $150 million fortune to her four rescue pups, who are now living with her longtime assistant. Or that Lauren Bacall’s will said her dog, Sophie, would inherit $10,000 of her $26.6 million estate. You might have even laughed when you heard the news.

Richard Eisenberg, a blogger with the PBS website Next Avenue, said he was pleasantly surprised to see that many people do, according to a recent survey. Securian Financial polled 903 U.S. pet owners and found that 44 percent have made plans for what would happen to their pets if the owners passed away or were no longer able to care for them (80 percent of the owners had dogs; 65 percent cats and 14 percent had “other”). “We’ve seen a lot in the media that people feel their pets are part of their family and talked to some of our planners who said this is coming up quite often — owners wanting to be sure their pets will be taken care of,” said Michelle Hall, manager of market research for Securian. According to the survey, however, in most cases where owners have made plans, their instructions were just informal and weren’t written down.

Anyone who owns a pet or ever has understands exactly what Rivers and Bacall were doing — ensuring that their loved ones would be cared for after they were gone. As Rivers told The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman in early September: “I’ve left money so the dogs can be taken care of.” (In my own family, the loss of our beloved miniature schnauzer, Chance, a few years ago, was one of the saddest days of our lives.) If you’re a pet owner, you should follow the lead of Rivers and Bacall, no matter how big your estate will be.

To read more about how to make sure your pet is cared for in your estate, go to: