Our pets do a lot for us. They offer unfailing love and companionship, act as wake-up or intruder alarms and even help with household pest control. They can also serve as agents of therapy to aid recovery from emotional trauma or tragic loss. Without a doubt, our loyal pets are invaluable members of our families.

 But unlike our children or spouses, they have no legal right to inheritance when we’re gone. Consider the possibility that a lifetime canine or feline companion will end up in a shelter. After all, taking on the responsibility of an octogenarian (in dog years) is a big burden in terms of time and finances. And who would adopt a needy, morbidly obese hairball that maybe, just maybe, tries to suffocate you in your sleep? What are these dear pets’ odds of survival at a kill shelter? 

There are a couple of ways to plan for your pet’s well-being after your death. You could simply hand over the pet to a designated loved one via a will, much like passing along a watch or a car. Perhaps you might leave that person cash to cover food and other expenses . 

Or you can set up a pet trust, which creates a legal obligation. With a pet trust, you are basically turning your little pup or puss into a trust fund baby. You first set aside funding, which depending on the animal’s age or medical needs can be hundreds or thousands of dollars. You then name a trustee, whose job it is to care for the pet and to spend the funds towards the pet’s needs. You can even incentivize the caretaker with compensation for his or her services.

 It may seem like an elaborate arrangement. But pets do end up in shelters because their humans are hospitalized or deceased. A pet trust can give you the peace of mind of knowing your beloved pet will be properly cared for. If you reside in the Mesa, Arizona area, estate planning attorney Joseph M. Udall can tailor plans to fit your needs and wishes, including for care of your pets. Call 480-500-1866  or contact us online for a free telephone consultation