Saturday, April 2, 2011

Legal on 4: Planning your pets' future

Today's Legal on 4 focuses on an issue that you probably haven't thought of: what would happen to your pets if you weren't around anymore? News 4 at 4 legal contributor Craig Wisnom says it's smart to make plans not only for your death, but if you become incapacitated. Here is Wisnom's legal advice for planning for your pets:

Planning for incapacity: Normally, individuals can plan for incapacity by executing a Power of Attorney, which names someone to make decisions on your behalf. If you have pets, you should make sure specific authority is provided for them. Otherwise, your Agent may not have the legal authority to spend your money to care for your pets.

Planning for death: In case of your death, the first step in planning for your pet's care is realizing your animal's need and living situation. Is it a horse that will require a great expense for food and boarding, or an animal with special medical needs? Once this is established, there is a broad range of options available to provide for your pet:

A. No plan: If no planning is done, the individual or professional you name as Personal Representative of your estate, or the Trustee of your Revocable Trust, will decide what happens to your animals.

B. Specify a new caregiver in your Will: In your will, you can specify who will inherit your pet. You can also select alternative owners if your first choice is not willing to accept your pet. C. Give the selected caregiver money: An additional step in planning is to give money to the person who will care for your pet. This will not create a legal entity or obligation, but providing money may help make it easier for Nephew Jeffrey to take responsibility for Spot.

D. Leave a gift for animal organizations: For those who want more certainty provided for their pets, there are organizations available that will guarantee a certain level of care, placement, and supervision for your animals if you provide the group with a certain monetary amount in your Will.

For instance, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona has the "Guardian Angel" program. This can be a particularly important option when you want to provide for your pet but don't have an individual willing and able to accept responsibility for your pet when you die.

E. Set up a trust: Arizona law provides for the "deluxe" option, where you can set up a continuing trust for your pet, under your Will or Revocable Trust. With this option, a Trustee will be named to make any decisions regarding your pet and manage the money designated for that use.

There are many options available in planning for your pet's care after you are gone. Choosing the right option for your pet depends on his/her needs and the resources available.



Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.


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