Amy Roberts: In Dog I Trust |

Amy Roberts: In Dog I Trust

Red Card Roberts

By Amy Roberts
Park Record columnist 

It has been stated that only two things in life are certain: Death and taxes. Last week, I took care of both.

Obviously not literally on the death part, though filing my taxes did nearly send me into cardiac arrest. Last week though, I took steps to prepare for my death.

I started thinking about creating a trust, will and advanced directive a few months ago when my sister passed away. The grief was disabling at times, and more than once I considered how much worse it would have been had Heather not had her affairs in order.

Who would have the authority to sell her home? What possessions did she want to leave to whom? Did she want to be buried? Thankfully, the answers to all of those questions were in writing and we were able to fulfil her wishes.

Until last week, the only estate planning I’d ever done is a handwritten note on my refrigerator that says, “If I ever become a vegetable, pull the plug.” Which is probably not a legally binding document.

Unmarried, childless and healthy, I admit planning for my death hasn’t been a top priority. After Heather’s passing, I filed it in the “things to do” section of my brain.

But then I saw some post online about 12 dogs in a shelter because their owner died and no one else in the family wanted them, and my internal filing system changed to “things to do ASAP.”

Seeing that post about the now homeless hounds made me wonder: If something happened to me, what would happen to my dogs? Sure, my parents would take them, but they’re almost 70 and already have two. My older sister has a dog as well, and is a single mom to my niece, Addison. Plus, my dogs aren’t exactly easy. Their nickname rhymes with “the ducker brothers” for good reason.

Dalmatians are high energy; mine require multiple walks a day. They eat gluten-free organic food, have flown first class, receive massages and acupuncture as needed and have a rather stylish selection of clothing and collars to choose from. It sounds ridiculous when I type it all out. If they had a butler and a social media account, they could be Kardashians.

But long ago, this was the type of dog owner I committed to being: ensuring my dogs had the highest quality of life I could give them. I am doubtful my father would commit to the same. In the event of my untimely death, my dogs would likely be eating Walmart brand kibble. And there is absolutely no imagination wild enough to picture my dad driving his grand-dogs to a canine spa.

If I were to die relatively soon, my dogs would have a drastic change in their living standards. And if I die an old lady with pets, will I have a niece I would trust to take them? Right now, she’s 2. Who knows what type of person she’ll be when I’m 80? As my family’s only heir, she will have inherited everything. Will that make her an irresponsible brat?

By no means do I have a fortune, but I bought a house at the right time. I wanted to make sure that should I die, some of the equity goes to the dogs. So I called Park City estate planner, Kristal Bowman-Carter to make it official.

Kristal started our meeting by asking: “What are your goals?”

“Well, I want to make sure any pets I have at the time of my death are well cared for. And I want to make sure my niece doesn’t turn out like Paris Hilton. And also, I don’t want to be buried or cremated. I want to be turned into a tree.”

I can’t be sure, but I got the impression not many people plan for their funeral this way.

Kristal assured me setting aside money with specific instructions for my pets’ care didn’t make me crazy. She helped me set up my trust so Addison can’t live like a trust funder, and to ensure my parents would spend money on dog walkers. And yes, I’ll be planted as a tree my dogs can lift their legs on.

While creating a trust and planning for my death felt kind of morbid, I definitely feel better now that it’s done. If nothing else, I can die with my mind at ease.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.

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