The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s article entitled “Who will take care of Fido when you're gone? Minnesotans put trust in trusts” reports that Minnesotans are setting up trusts to care for their pets in the event they survive them.
This is a fairly new law in Minnesota. Since it was enacted in 2016, Minnesotans have been setting aside money to guarantee the care of their animals after they die or are incapacitated. With a pet trust, there’s a guarantee that the money earmarked to care for the animal will be there for the animal as intended. A trust can designate a separate caretaker, trustee and a trust enforcer to care for the animal, manage the money. and make certain the care is being provided as instructed in the trust.
A pet trust can contain instructions on the type of food, medical care, exercise and housing the pet will get, as well as the pet’s end of life and burial or cremation directions.
When the pet trust law was being debated in the Minnesota Legislature, there was the idea that pet trusts are frivolous, an option only for wealthy eccentrics like New York real estate and hotel tycoon Leona Helmsley. She died in 2007 leaving $12 million for the care of her dog, Trouble. The courts later reduced that amount to $2 million.
In the North Star State, the amount of money put into a trust to care for a pet can’t be excessive, or a judge might decrease the amount.
A pet trust can be used to care for an animal before the owner dies but is disabled or incapacitated. When the pet dies, depending on how the trust was created, the money left in the trust would be distributed to heirs or could go to another designated person or charity.
In states where pet trusts are not available, a person could write in their will that a relative will inherit a pet, and the pet owner could also leave the person money to pay for the animal’s care. However, because pets are legally considered personal property, they cannot own property or inherit assets themselves. As a result, there’s nothing that would prevent the relative designated to care for the animal to take it to the pound after you die and spend the cash on themselves.
A pet trust can provide a plan for animal lovers who want to own pets late in life but may be concerned the pet might outlive them. Talk to an experienced Cincinnati estate planning attorney about pet trusts in your state.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: StarTribune (Sep. 23, 2020) “Who will take care of Fido when you're gone? Minnesotans put trust in trusts”