Many of us own pets and consider them important, and in many instances, essential to our happiness and well-being. We form personal relationships with our pets and the loss of a pet can be a tragic event. However, have you considered, how your pet(s) would react to your death and the loss of your companionship? Have you considered making plans for the care of your pet(s) in the event of your death? As lovers of pets, shouldn’t we consider these questions?
Fortunately, there are options available by which you can provide for the care of that special pet or pets should something unfortunate happen to you. A few options are briefly mentioned in this blog. This is not intended as an exhaustive list of options. Nor does this blog set forth the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Instead, the purpose of this blog is to “get you thinking” so your pet(s) will receive loving care when you are no long around to personally provide the care. The creation and establishment of a good care plan can be accomplished only with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney.
Probably the simplest option is to direct the pet be given to a family member or close friend you know will provide good, loving care. This can work quite well as long as the person chosen can and will provide a loving home with care comparable to that which you currently provide. What about the cost of continuing to provide for the pet? You could provide a direct monetary distribution to the person in exchange for the acknowledgment and agreement of the person to provide the care. This is a simple plan but the success of it depends entirely on the integrity of the person providing the care.
It is also possible to direct your pet be given to a program specifically designed to take over the care of pets whose owners have died. One such example in Southern Arizona is the “Guardian Angel” program through the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (“HSSA”). By including a provision in your will together with directing a monetary distribution to HSSA, you can have peace of mind your pet will find a new, loving and caring owner. The HSSA will locate a new owner and depending on the arrangements made will even monitor the new owner(s). More information on this can be found at this link: https://hssaz.org/get involved/give/planned giving/guardian angel/. There are other established programs through other non-profit organizations.
In Arizona, you can actually create a trust for your pet setting aside funds to be administered by a trustee and used for the care of your pet. Trust provisions can include: (1) designating the person or persons who will to receive the pet and provide for its care; (2) designating what distributions are to be made and for what purposes; (3) directing the trustee to visit the pet periodically to see it is receiving the desired care; (4) directing compensation (if desired) for the person(s) providing the care and for the trustee; (5) directing what authority the trustee will have to remove the pet should the care of the pet be deficient; (6) directing the burial of the pet upon death; (7) directing the distribution of any funds remaining in the trust upon the death of the pet. Look at Arizona Revised Statute 14-2907