Saturday, February 11, 2012

Include your pets in your future planning

Emily Dickinson once said, "Life is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." That was certainly true for Amy Wesselhoft, who packed a whole lot of living into her all too short life.

Amy earned a B.S. in biology from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was in nurse's training at Yavapai College and employed as a certified nurse's assistant at Good Samaritan at the time of her death. Although fighting a serious illness, her death was still unexpected. A quiet, gentle and loving soul, Amy deeply touched the people around her. Predeceased by her husband, best friend and soulmate, David, Amy is survived by three of her greatest loves: her Labrador retrievers Dinkens, Eme and Katy.

Another poet exclaimed, "Death may end a life, but it does not end a relationship." Amy acquired her three dogs as puppies 11, 9 and 7 years ago, respectively, and it is clear that they miss her. Fortunately, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) found loving homes for each of them before they despaired from their loss.

Amy's story is a life lesson for all of us. When planning for the future, make sure your family is financially taken care of - and remember that your pets are part of the family.

When you review your living trust or will, consider including a gift to the Yavapai Humane Society. Called a charitable bequest, this type of gift offers these main benefits:

Simplicity: Just a few sentences in your will or trust are all that is needed. Share this sample bequest language with your estate planning attorney: "I, (name), of (city, state ZIP), give, devise and bequeath to the Yavapai Humane Society (written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property) for its unrestricted use and purpose."

Flexibility: Because you are not actually making a gift until after your lifetime, you can change your mind at any time.

Versatility: You can structure the bequest to leave a specific item or amount of money, make the gift contingent on certain events, or leave a percentage of your estate to YHS.

Tax Relief: If your estate is subject to estate tax, your gift is entitled to an estate tax charitable deduction for the gift's full value.

To make a charitable bequest, you need a current will or revocable living trust. Your gift can be made as a percentage of your estate, or you can make a specific bequest by giving a certain amount of cash, securities or property to the Yavapai Humane Society after your lifetime.

Contact Daniel Petz at 443-8712 or regarding any questions about naming the Yavapai Humane Society in your will or living trust. We're happy to help, without obligation.

Always see your estate-planning attorney about making or updating your will or living trust documents. If you would like to discuss the good your future gift could accomplish at the Yavapai Humane Society contact me at 445-2666, ext. 21, or by email at

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.