There are many decision and considerations to be made when putting an estate plan in place. These decisions can include who would be in charge of assets if the owner were to become incapacitated or passed away. Who would be the guardian of minor children. Who would ultimately receive assets on an owners passing. What happens to my pets when I am gone. In many instances a person has a beloved pet or animal that they would like to receive proper treatment and care if they were to pass away but don’t know how to provide for their pets and animals.
A common mechanism to provide for an animal or pet in an estate plan, is that the owner will leave a devise in the form of a dollar amount in their will or revocable trust to a family member or friend. This amount is given with the intent that it be used for the care and maintenance of the decedent’s pet.
There is a problem with this approach. When the person who is named in the will or trust to receives such money, there is no requirement under the law for them to actually use the money for the care for the loved animal.
Arizona has laws in place that allow a legal trust to be set up for the benefit of an animal or animals for the remainder of their lifetime if something were to happen to the owner. These pet trusts own assets in a way that allow an owner of a pet or animal to set aside funds for the care and maintenance of their pets without running the risk of a possible caregiver receiving the money for their own personal benefit.
Some of the benefits of a pet trust include the following:
- Provides a legal plan for care for pets in the event that the owner was to pass away or become incapacitated. (Merely making a devise in a will not provide care to pets if the owner is incapacitated.)
- Provides protection of assets from misuse or mismanagement under the laws of Arizona. Protects against the caretaker taking the money for themselves instead of providing care for the intended pet or pets.
- Provides greater control over what type of care pets will receive in the event the owner becomes incapacitated or passes away.
- Gives owner power to direct remaining assets of pet trust to a person or entity of their choosing after the remaining pet passes away.
By including a pet trust in an estate plan, owners are able to ensure that their loved animal companions will be protected and cared for under the law.