I have a “big” family – me, my wife, my son and my two dogs. Like many people with pets, we consider our dogs an integral part of our family: They are in our Christmas card, go on vacations with us and are simply part of our everyday lives. Our lives would not be as bright or complete without our furry friends.
But what happens to our pets when we are not there to take care of them?
We know how much we spend to provide for our dogs, and we want the same level of care and love given to them after we are gone. So, unlike most people, as part of our estate plan, we have included provisions to take care of our dogs through a pet trust.
One of the most famous pet trusts was created by Leona Helmsley for her dog, Trouble. Helmsley originally dictated that $12 million dollars be set aside for Trouble. However, the court reduced the amount put into the trust to “only” $2 million, feeling that amount was more than sufficient for his care over the course of his lifetime. Trouble will be able to enjoy the rest of his life in comfort because Ms. Helmsley thought to provide for him.
Our pet trust is funded with sufficient funds to maintain the lifestyle that our dogs currently enjoy. We have selected a person that we trust to care for the dogs (known as the trustee) – and we even picked secondary people in case something happens to the first. And through the trust, we control where any left over money goes when our furry friends join us in the beyond – we chose animal charities like Best Friends and The Humane Society.
Arizona and New Mexico have laws that permit the creation of pet trusts. However, the drafting of a pet trust needs to be done with care so that the provisions of the trust are followed.
As an estate planning attorney, I know the importance of taking the first step – put a plan in place. As an estate planning attorney at Morris Hall I know that the plan takes into consideration the nuances in the law to help ensure our wishes are adhered to.
By having a well drafted estate plan that includes a pet trust, we can rest easily knowing that we are providing for our entire family – both human and canine.
About Morris Hall:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
Contributed by Attorney James P. Plitz