Animal lovers know what it means to say that their pets are part of the family. There is a special bond that is formed between animals and their owners. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, a cat, or even a snake. The reality is that these pets are special to their masters and so it should come as no great surprise if accommodations are made for them through proper trust planning.

As we’ve noted before on this blog, despite the humor some may find in the practice, creating trusts for pets happens more these days than ever, especially in Florida, with its growing elder population. The key is in understanding that the planning involved centers on establishing a human-managed trust. Rather than simply leaving wealth to a pet, a trust ensures that human greed doesn’t leave a beloved companion out on the street.

That appears to have been the intent behind the plan of Maria Assunta. The 94-year-old Italian woman died late last month and left her fortune, estimated at about $13 million, to her cat Tommaso.

For Tommaso, the action locks in a reversal of fortunes that occurred about four years ago. That’s when Assunta, a widow with no children or living relatives, found the kitten in an alley in Rome. She took to the feline immediately and brought it home. When she couldn’t find a welfare group she felt would take care of the kitten properly, she adopted him herself.

Upon Assunta’s death it was learned that she had left all she had; properties in Rome, Milan and Calbria; to Tommaso. And she willed that her former nurse should be the human to take on the cat’s care.

The nurse reportedly had no idea how wealthy her former boss was. She told reporters who inquired that she only knew Assunta was lonely and loved Tommaso. And she said she had promised Assunta that she would care for the cat always.

Assunta’s lawyer says the nurse is the right person for the job since she loves animals just as Assunta did.