As people start the estate planning process, they often forget to consider their pets. While a friend or family member may have offered to care for your pet should anything happen to you, they may be underestimating the time and money required to take care of the pet. As a result, many Arizona animals end up without a home once their owners pass away. A trust may be the best way to protect and provide for your pet long-term.
Although this may change in the coming years, for now, pets are generally considered personal property. This means that you can leave your pet to someone in a will, just like you can leave other pieces of property. However, this does not allow you to specify how the pet should be taken care of. A pet trust, on the other hand, gives you control over your pet’s future care.
Your pet trust will allow you to put money aside, specifically for your pet’s care. You can also specify how you want your trustee to spend that money. Without a legal document specifying what happens to your pet, the person who ends up with them has no obligation to care for them the way you want them to. Experts suggest clarifying special diets, medical treatments and other details regarding the animal’s care, as well as how this care will be funded.
If the pet ends up at a shelter, the shelter will typically try to get the pet adopted as soon as possible. However, taking in your pet can cost the shelter or the volunteer who takes your pet a lot of money, particularly if he or she gets sick. In many cases, people feel guilty for not being able to give the pet the care they deserve. To avoid this difficult situation, experts suggest naming a good caretaker in your trust who will make responsible decisions with regard to your pet, particularly if the money in the trust runs out.
Source: The Post and Courier, “Forever friend: Plan for your pet’s future, even if you’re not there,” Helen Mitternight, Dec. 18, 2017