Planning For Your Pet
There are many pet owners who care deeply for their animal. If you have a four-legged member of the family, you may want to make provisions for your pet in the event you die or become incapacitated. There are a number of ways you can make arrangements for your pet.
TrustThough it may vary from state-to-state, many jurisdictions allow you to create a trust for the benefit of a pet. In Arizona, a trust for the care of a designated domestic or pet animal is valid by statute; A.R.S. 14-2907. Providing for your pet by way of trust allows you to name a caretaker for your pet, as well as a trustee who will have the duty to ensure your pet receives care according to your wishes, for the lifetime of your pet. You can also determine what to do about the death of your pet and where to distribute the remaining funds that were set aside for your pet.
WillA will also allows you to name a caretaker for your pet, leave instructions for the care of your pet, and set aside funds for that care. Unlike a trust, a will does not designate a trustee to ensure the caretaker abides by your wishes, so it is important that you choose a trusted and ethical caretaker for your pet. It also important to note that there will be a period of time during which your will is probated. That period of time could be weeks or months long, and the funds for the care of your pet will not be distributed during that time. As such, you may want to have an interim agreement with your chosen caretaker, setting aside funds and providing power to make decisions regarding your pet's care.
Informal ArrangementsIf there is a trusted person you have in mind, perhaps a relative or friend, you may be able to simply make an informal arrangement with that person to be the caretaker for your pet. You will want to have a discussion with that person regarding your wishes. However, there is a risk that the chosen caretaker will not honor your wishes once the pet is in his or her care.
Humane SocietiesThere are organizations that will agree to take your pet upon your passing. This is a good option if you do not have a caretaker in mind. You can instruct your estate planning attorney to include a provision in your will allocating money to the organization for the care of your pet. It may be preferable to make such a provision in a trust, so that funds are dispensed over the life of your pet instead of in a lump sum. This will allow your trustee to monitor the care of your pet to ensure your pet is cared for according to your wishes.