Good Boy Fido, You’re a Trust Beneficiary!

March 2017

Many of us consider our pets to be part of our family. This means we worry about who will care for them in the event of our deaths, but more importantly, how do we make sure there’s enough money set aside for this purpose?

Under Minnesota law, a pet owner can create a pet trust to fund the care for your animal or animals that are alive during your lifetime. To be valid, the trust must terminate upon the death of the animal or upon the death of the last surviving animal covered by the trust. Regardless, a pet trust may not be enforced for more than ninety years in Minnesota.

The assets held in the trust can only be used for the trust’s intended use which you will determine while creating the trust. There isn’t a specific dollar limit as to the amount that can fund the trust. However, a court can determine that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the trusts intended use.

So what happens to the trust property after Fido dies? The trust will terminate and the excess trust property will be distributed according to the trust provisions, otherwise to your heirs-at-law if your trust is silent. The same holds true for any excess amount if a court determines the trust is overfunded.

A pet trust can be enforced by anyone appointed by the terms of the trust, or if the trust is silent, anyone appointed by a court. In addition, there are protective provisions in the law that allow anyone with an interest in the welfare of the animal to request a court to appoint a person to either enforce the trust or remove an appointed person.

So are you ready to get to the planning of your pet’s trust? You will want to consider the financial needs of your pet given its life expectancy and determine who should care for your pet and manage the assets held in the pet trust. In other words, who will be Fido’s best friend?

This post was written by Karen Schlotthauer, an attorney in our Trusts & Estates practice group. If you have any questions about pet trusts, Karen can be reached at karen.schlotthauer@fmjlaw.com or 952.995.9500.