Pet Trusts Finally Come of Age in Minnesota

Pets GaloreVirginia as well as most other states in the U.S. have enacted laws to allow you to make sure your pet will have care after you're gone.

However, in Minnesota, your pet might not be pampered when you pass away. At present, the Gopher State is the only state in the U.S. without a law allowing pet owners to create trusts to care for their animals in the event the owner cannot.

Rep. Dennis Smith, along with his dog Reagan (serving as a special four-legged lobbyist), planned to make the case to his colleagues that it was time for Minnesota to end its unique designation as the only state in the union without a statute that allows for the formation of a pet trust.

Smith is an animal lover who has at least two photos of his golden retriever mixed-breed pup in his legislative office in Saint Paul. He also has Reagan, along with his wife and children, on his campaign website. As an attorney, Smith commented that he sees his clients make gifts to their animals in their estate planning about one third of the time.

Under current state law in Minnesota, residents may designate money in their wills for their pets, but there's no legal requirement that the cash be spent on the animals. This is not the same as in other states that allow for animal trusts. In a trust, any cash left for the care of an animal must legally be spent on Fido or Spot. When he, she or it dies, any money remaining in the trust could go to other heirs or be distributed as instructed in the trust or as determined by the probate court.

In addition, the terms of an animal trust could also be used for payment for care for an animal when its owner is still alive but no longer able to manage it. According to Smith, a pet trust wouldn't allow its creator to avoid debts or taxes out of his or her estate, which means it wouldn't cost the state anything to adopt an animal trust law.

Reference: WDAY.com (April 7, 2016) "Who will care for your pet when your die? Trust bill proposed"


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