By Libby Banks, The Law Office of Libby Banks, PLLC
Those of us with pets consider them family members. And like the rest of the family, we want to make sure they are taken care of when we can no longer do the job. The wealthy sometimes go to the extreme to provide for their pets.
Leona Helmsley is one of the most famous examples, having left her entire $12 million fortune to Trouble, her dog. The family sued, and the judge whittled Trouble’s share down to $2 million. The widow of the Star Trek creator left $4 million for their dogs, and $1 million for the employee to care for them. Even Oprah Winfrey has established a pet trust for her beloved dogs, setting aside $30 million for their care, according to Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine. One of my favorites is Miami heiress Gail Posner who left $3 million for her three dogs – and $2 million to her son.
Pet trusts are a real thing provided for under Arizona law. You might find that your own neighbors may need a pet trust. Why? Because some pets can live a long, long time, like my friend’s Tortuga tortoise, Pepe, who could live to be 100. A cockatoo can live as long as 60 years. When your pets could easily outlive you, you need to plan for them! Who will take care of them when you are gone?
Money is important to providing for your pets as well, especially if you have a with expensive upkeep. Caring for horses, for example, requires a much greater expenditure of time and money than the care for a dog or cat. Setting up a trust provides the money so that it is not a burden on the person who receives your pets at your death and assures your pets will live out their natural life the way you would want.
Pet trusts allow a pet owner to provide not just money for the animal, but also detailed requirements for their care. What veterinarian to use, what food to feed the pet, weekly grooming, even regular walks or car rides can be required and paid for in the trust. The pet trust can be created as a separate trust or created within your own revocable living trust. Often, my clients simply designate the caregiver to take the pets, and give a cash gift with the pet.
Whatever you decide to do to provide for you pets, it is important to put it in writing if you want it to be binding. Having a plan in place for your assets, for your pets and for your own care if you are incapacitated will give you immense peace of mind.
If you are interested in putting an estate plan in place, I offer a complimentary first consultation. Give me a call at 602-375-6752 or check out my website at libbybanks.com.