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Estate Planning for Your Pet

By John R. Becker, Esq.
Becker & House, PLLC
Certified Estate and Trust Law Specialist

Several years ago Elizabeth lost her husband to cancer.  With her children grown and living out of state, Elizabeth rescued a small dog from the local animal shelter to help fill her lonely days.  “Chomper” became an important part of Elizabeth’s family and added so much joy to Elizabeth’s life.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth is now faced with her own potentially fatal health issues and is concerned about what will become of Chomper, her beloved pet and companion, when she passes on.

Pets have become family members to many of us and often we want to insure that if something were to happen to us, they would be cared for in the manner in which they have become accustomed to.

When we perform estate planning services for our clients, we discuss their property, and who is to receive it.  We discuss their minor children, and who is to act as guardian for those minor children.  Additionally, we discuss our clients’ pets, and who is going to care for those beloved pets should our clients become incapacitated or upon their deaths.

Arizona actually has two statutes that allow the creation of a trust for the purpose of holding funds to be used for the care of a person’s pet.  Typically, the establishment of a pet trust is not necessary.  However, the identification of a proper caregiver is essential.  You should determine who you wish to act as caregiver in your place as well as name at least one alternate caregiver.

Our clients are also provided with a pet information sheet for each of their pets.  This document lists the pet’s veterinary information as well as its daily care information, including its usual food, likes and dislikes, and any behavioral information important for the care of that pet.

At Becker & House, we take pride in our legal services for clients, especially in estate planning and estate administration.  As part of that planning, we want to make certain that the beloved pets of our clients are properly cared for upon their passing.  Knowing that Chomper will continue to receive the care Elizabeth has given him, Elizabeth will be able to rest a little easier.

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