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Pet Trusts Can Protect Your Pets after You’re Gone
Pet Trusts Ensure Your Pets Will Be Cared For

Pet Trusts Can Protect Your Pets after You’re Gone

Many of us consider our pets members of the family, but the law does not. In Arizona, pets are considered property, reports the East Valley Tribune in the article “Trusts can help provide for a pet’s future.” That means you can’t leave them your house, or open a bank account in their name.

However, you can take measures to protect your pets from what could happen to them after you pass away. A pet trust is a great solution.

The simple thing to do is to make arrangements with a trusted family member or friend to take care of your pet and leave some money for their care. The problem is, there’s no way to enforce this, and it’s all based on trust. What happens if something unexpected happens to your trusted family member or friend, and they can’t care for your pet?

You’ve also given them funds that they are not legally required to spend on your pet.

Another choice is to leave your pet to a no-kill animal shelter. However, shelters, even no-kill shelters, can be stressful for animals who are used to a family home. There’s also no way to know when your pet will be adopted, since most people come to shelters to adopt puppies and kittens. There is also the issue of the shelter. Will it continue to operate after you are gone?

The best way that many people care for their pets, is by having a pet trust created. An estate planning attorney in your state will know if your state is among the many that allow a pet trust to be created to benefit your pet.

Start by naming a guardian for your pets, including instructions on whether your pets should be kept together. If you are not sure about a guardian, name additional guardians, in case one does not wish to serve. Then determine how much money you need to leave for the pet’s care. This will depend upon the animal’s age, health and life expectancy. There will need to be adequate funding for any medical issues. The trust can specify whether you want your pet to undergo expensive surgeries or whether they should be kept comfortable at any cost.

You’ll want to make sure to name a guardian who you are confident will care for your pet or pets in the same manner as you would.

A pet trust will require you to name a trustee, who will be in charge of disbursing the funds as they are needed and can also check on the pet to be sure they are well, and your instructions are being followed. The money in the trust must only be used by person for the care of the pets.

A pet trust will give you the peace of mind of knowing that your beloved companion animals are being cared for, even when you are not here to care for them. Speak with an estate planning attorney to learn how to make a pet trust part of your overall estate plan.

Pet trusts are a great way to make sure your pets are cared for after you pass away.

Reference: East Valley Tribune (Oct. 14, 2019) “Trusts can help provide for a pet’s future”

Why Should I Pair my Business Succession and Estate Planning?
Business Succession Planning

Why Should I Pair my Business Succession and Estate Planning?

A successful business succession or exit plan can accomplish three important objectives for a business owner: (i) financial security, because the business sale or transfer provides income that the owner and owner’s family will need after the owner’s exit; (ii) the right person where the business owner names his or her successor; and (iii) income-tax minimization.

Likewise, a successful estate plan achieves three important personal goals: (i) financial security for the decedent’s heirs; (ii) the decedent (not the state) chooses who receives his or her estate assets; and (iii) estate-tax minimization.

Business owners will realize that the two processes have the same goals. Therefore, they can leverage their time and money and develop their exit plans into the design of their estate plans. The Phoenix Business Journal’s recent article “Which comes first for Arizona business owners: estate planning or exit planning?” explains that considering exit and estate planning together, lets a business owner ask questions to bring their entire picture into focus. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. If a business owner doesn’t leave her business on the planned business exit date, how will she provide her family with the same income stream they would’ve enjoyed if she had?
  2. How can a business owner be certain that her business retains its previously determined value?
  3. Regardless of whether an owner’s exit plan involves transferring part of the business to her children, does her estate plan reflect and implement her wishes, if she doesn’t survive?
  4. If an owner dies before leaving the business, can she be certain that her family will still get the full value of the business?

Another goal of the exit planning process is to protect assets from creditors during an owner’s lifetime and to minimize tax consequences upon a transfer of ownership.

Because planning exits from both business and life are based on the same premises, it can be relatively easy to develop a consistent outcome. There isn’t only one correct answer to the “estate or exit planning” question. A business owner must act on both fronts, since a failure to act in either case creates ongoing issues for owners and for their businesses and families.

If you are a business owner and thinking about succession, start planning early.

Reference: Phoenix Business Journal (October 8, 2019) “Which comes first for Arizona business owners: estate planning or exit planning?”

An Estate Plan Will Determine How You are Remembered
Take Control of your Estate Plan Instead of the State Stepping In

An Estate Plan Will Determine How You are Remembered

You have an estate plan, even if you never make the effort to formally create one. However, it may not be the one you wanted, explains an article from The Washington Post titled “You will die. Don’t exit leaving a hot mess behind.” When someone dies without a will, the laws of their state determine how assets are distributed to their heirs.

We read many news articles about celebrities who die without wills. One of the most notable was Aretha Franklin, who died last year. She actually left behind three hand-written wills, including one found under a couch cushion. Her four children are now tangled in an expensive court battle. The fight has gotten so heated, that a judge put the estate’s administration under court supervision.

The rich and famous aren’t the only ones who leave messes behind for their heirs to deal with. The stories told by the woman in charge of funeral services at a Maryland church are so sad. Try these on for size, the next time you want to put off creating or revising your will:

A woman has four children. She dies with no will. Two children wanted to have her cremated, the other two wanted to honor her wishes for a burial. The matter ends up in court, where it is revealed that she had purchased a cemetery plot for herself. The family remains divided.

An older gentleman dies, leaving a $125,000 life insurance policy to his much younger girlfriend of two years. His adult children had no idea she was the beneficiary. The girlfriend refused to contribute to the funeral or burial. That was her right. However, the children were furious. When she tried to attend the funeral, the police were called.

Heard enough? Here’s one that will send you to the phone to make an appointment with your estate planning attorney right now:

A man died, and his current wife did not want either his children from his first marriage nor his first wife to have anything to do with the funeral. However, the man never took his first wife’s name off of the house title or as the beneficiary of his insurance policy. The ex-spouse got everything. The first wife paid for the funeral and burial, but she also reclaimed the house that was rightfully hers. The widow went to live with her mother.

Do yourself, your children and your current spouse a favor. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney, check the beneficiaries on your insurance policies, retirement and investment accounts and get your affairs in order. We never know when we will pass, only that we will pass. Be remembered as the person, who took care of their loved ones.

Read how estate planning shortcuts create problems.

Reference: The Washington Post (Oct. 5, 2019) “You will die. Don’t exit leaving a hot mess behind”