Arizona Pet Planning: It’s as easy as 1-2-3
1. How can I plan to keep my pet should I become divorced?
As a person gets ready for marriage, sometimes the thought of an eventual divorce can lead the couple into an attorney’s office to obtain a pre-nuptial agreement. But, it can happen that the most important asset, a pet, is left out of the agreement.
Consider then obtaining either a pre-nuptial agreement that addresses your pet, or a stand-alone Pet-Nup. A Pet-Nup is an agreement that addresses who will receive the pet upon divorce, visitation, custody over making health decisions, euthanization issues, and other very important concerns. Sure this is a simple step, but one that can be easily forgotten.
2. What happens to my pet when I become incapacitated?
In most quality estate plans, an attorney will create a Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Mental Health Care Power of Attorney. But, did you know that you can have a power of attorney created that governs the care for your pet when you are away on vacation or if you became incapacitated?
Pet owners might seriously consider utilizing a Special Limited Power of Attorney for the care of their pet in situations like these. Or, another option might be having an attorney draft specific provisions relating to the care of one’s pet into a Financial Power of Attorney. All in all, this is planning that can work and must not be forgotten.
3. Who will care for my pet when I die?
Back in January 2009, the Arizona legislature enacted a statutory Trust for the Care of an Animal with the adoption of the Arizona Trust Code. Under the Arizona Trust Code, a trust can be created either through a Will or as a stand-alone document which provides for the care of an animal alive during the Trustor’s lifetime. The Trust terminates on the death or the animal or on the death of the last surviving animal. A great strategy used to fund the trust is to have a life insurance policy pay death benefits to the Trustee of the Pet Trust.
Paramount to the creation of a “Pet Trust” in Arizona is the need to give proper consideration as to who you want to appoint as the Trustee (the person who manages the assets set aside for the care of the pet) and designate as a caretaker. Sometimes it is best if these individuals are not the same person. Equally important is the need to provide guidelines and express provisions for the care of your pet.