Providing for Pets Through Trusts

One of my three pups, O'Malley.

One of my three pups, O'Malley.

According to the Humane Society thousands of pets are abandoned each year because their owner dies or is unable to care for them and no one is left take on that responsibility.

   Today is National Pet Day! That means today we shoot and share how much we love and adore our fur babies all over social media. And why shouldn’t we? In addition to being super cute recent studies have shown that just being with them can reduce our anxiety levels, makes us more likely to survive a heart attack and less likely to gain weight. There is nothing Noodles, Mr. Boots, Pierre or Fluffy can’t do. And while we can’t imagine our lives without them, I urge everyone to take a moment and think about your pet children’s well being without you. Do you have a plan in place for your beloved pets should you pass on before them or become disabled to the point where you can no longer care for them? We take them to vet visits, get them organic food but most of us fail to provide for them in the direst of situations.

   According to the Humane Society thousands of pets are abandoned each year because their owner dies or is unable to care for them and no one is left take on that responsibility. Best-case scenario, pets are turned into shelters by friends and family members. Worst-case, they are abandoned or released to live on the streets as strays. However, in 2016 the Minnesota legislature passed a bill that provides pet parents with the necessary legal tools to make sure our pets don’t wind up in such precarious positions.

   In the past, Minnesota law treated pets as mere property thereby preventing them from inheriting any money or property from their owners. However recently, the Minnesota legislature realized that to most of us, pets are more than mere property…they are family. So the legislature passed The Pet Trust Bill which allows Minnesota pet owners to now legally prepare for our pets’ care after we pass away or become disabled just as we would for our human children.

   Under The Pet Trust Bill, pets are given a special status under the law, which effectively treats them as more than property. This special status means that while pets are still not viewed as human, they are able to inherit property from their owners unlike livestock. Therefore, if a pet trust is properly set up, Max the goofy golden can “inherit” money and property from his owner in order to provide for Max’s care for the rest of his goofy golden life. The Pet Trust Bill lets pet owners leave their home, life insurance payouts, 401Ks and more in a trust to ensure their pet children are taken care of for the rest of their natural lives.

   Also, The Pet Trust isn’t just for cats and dogs. Under Minnesota law, The Pet Trust covers all pets; from goldfish and parrots to horses and iguanas. So long as the animal is not considered livestock, the owner can set up a pet trust no matter what life form the pet takes. For example, if chickens and cows are part of a working farm, they are still considered livestock and remain mere property in the eyes of the law. However, if you love your pet cow Bessie with all your heart and she is not considered livestock- you can provide for her care in the event of your death. The same goes with pigs, chickens, rabbits and other farm animals.

   Pet owners can also include in these trusts special instructions for the care of their pets. So if Maloney the lab gets acupuncture treatments for her arthritis the pet owner can provide for that to continue on. If Daphne and Finn are the best rabbit siblings who cannot stand to be split up, that also can be provided for in the trust. Is Snickers the kitty a finicky eater? Specific choice of food can also be a part of the trust. Want to make sure Shadow the horse remains in a specific stable for the rest of her life? Put it in the pet trust.

   Of course since these are legal documents, it is best that an attorney who is familiar with The Pet Trust Bill prepare them. There are some very precise rules and drafting language required to make sure a pet trust is effective and successful. Neon Esquire is now offering simple pet trusts as part of the services we provide. Contact us at info@neonesquire.com for more information or to set up a consultation time. Now go kiss your pet baby!