Can I Leave My Estate to My Dog?

The answer is, well… Kinda

April is National Pet Month. So, this month we wanted to honor our beloved companion animals by discussing how you can provide for them, even after you are gone. 

Pets are members of our families. They love us. They rely on us. That is why people are often surprised and saddened to learn how many loyal and loving dogs, cats, and other pets end up in shelters when their owners pass away.

Susan Kroon, Board President of the Blue Earth and Nicollet County Human Society (BENCHS), notes that “the hardest thing for BENCHS is when it receives surrendered pets whose pet parents have passed away because the pet is just devastated, heartbroken.”

Like many pet parents, our clients worry about the well-being of their pets. So, it may not surprise you that the question arises: Can I put my dog in my Will?

Now, let’s be clear: You will not be able to leave your entire estate or the family cabin to Fido directly. But, there is a solution.

Pet Trusts

Minnesota law allows you to create a Pet Trust for your beloved animal that answer the questions:

     “Who will take care of my pets, if they outlive me?”

     “How do I know that they will be provided for?”  

While most Pet Trusts are for dogs or cats, you could set up a trust for your goldfish, turtle, iguana, or other family pet.

A Pet Trust allows you to: 

  1. name a caretaker for your pet, similar to choosing a guardian for minor children; 
  2. provide instructions for your pet’s care, including information about the types of activities and treats that they love; and 
  3. set aside funds to cover the costs of your pet’s food, medical treatments, housing, toys, and treats. 

Then what? Paying it forward.

So, what happens if, after a long and full-life, your pet passes away and there is excess money remaining in the Pet Trust? 

The Pet Trust is set up to allow you to designate who receives any remaining funds, such as a favorite animal charity or local shelter. Pet parents often find that earmarking any leftover money to a charity pays it forward by helping care for animals that will one day be someone else’s beloved pet. 

Get in Touch

At Grabitske Law Firm, PLC, we know that pets are more than just property. We offer Pet Trusts because we know how important their future is to you. Contact Grabitske Law Firm, PLC today with any questions or to set up a Pet Trust and take care of Fluffy for years to come.

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Grabitske Law Firm, PLC

For nearly two decades, Paul Grabitske has been helping clients with their legal issues in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, agricultural law and litigation.

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