How can I protect my pet after I am gone?


Photo cred: Amy Humphries

If you are like many pet owners in Minnesota, your animal companion is more of a member of your family than a piece of property. Owners often spend considerable time (and money) caring for pets, worrying when they’re sick, and depending on them during hard times.

Because of their importance, pets can be a great concern when it comes to estate planning. However, before you assume you can just leave your entire estate in their paws, you should understand how estate planning for pets works in Minnesota.

Creating a pet trust

In order to provide for your pet after you are gone, you can establish an animal trust. Setting up this kind of trust allows you to set aside money and/or property specifically for the care and benefit of your pet. In accordance with state laws, the trust property will be used specifically and only for its intended purpose.

A pet trust allows you to specify the person who will take care of your pet for the rest of the animal’s lifetime. You can also provide direction on matters like medical care, nourishment, and physical health.

Things to consider when setting up an animal trust

While a trust allows you to provide the care and resources your pet needs, there are certain caveats to consider. First, as is the case with any trust, you would be wise to choose trustees and caregivers thoughtfully. Make sure they are trustworthy parties who are willing and able to take on the responsibility of caring for your pet.

You should also understand that if there are excess funds in the trust, then those funds will pass to your heirs. Because of this, you should be deliberate when deciding how much to put in this trust.

Ensuring the trust is set up properly

Without proper estate planning measures in place, your pet’s future could be left in the hands of people who are unable or unwilling to provide the care you would want. To ensure your pet’s needs are reflected in your estate plans and ensure a trust is created properly, you can discuss your legal options with an estate planning attorney.