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Don't forget your pets in your estate planning

Too many animals end up in shelters because their owners didn't plan for what would happen to their four-legged companions after they died. Often, people assume that family members will care for their critters and perhaps they intend to. However, sometimes all it takes is one nip from a frightened, confused animal who has just lost his beloved person for those promises to evaporate.

If you have companion animals, you should make provisions for them in your estate plan. This doesn't mean leaving them millions of dollars or designating that they only be fed from their favorite bowls. It simply means doing everything possible to ensure that they will be cared for by a loving, responsible person after you're gone.

The first step is to designate a caretaker to take your pets when you die. Be sure, as with anything you're asking of someone after you're gone, that this person is agreeable to taking your animals, and that the caretaker (or a designated administrator) will find another home for your pets if he or she can't take or keep them. If you can't find someone to agree to be the caretaker, you may be able to make arrangements with a rescue group or other organization to take your pets and find them a good home.

You should also consider creating a pet trust to provide funds for the care and support of your pets. Arizona law allows these trusts. Often they're created as part of a revocable living trust.

The pet trust is generally set up to last for as long as your animals are alive. Any money remaining in the trust will be distributed as you have designated.

Your Arizona estate planning attorney can provide guidance and information on how to thoroughly plan for the needs of any pets you currently have or may adopt in the future after you're gone.

Source: Bravo, "Don't Leave Pets Out of Estate Planning," Kristyn Pomranz, April 16, 2018

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  • Paul Faith David Ledyard Distinguished AV | Peer Review Rated | LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell | For Ethical Standards & Legal Ability

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