It is estimated that the population of the United States is 321.4 million people as of 2015. It is also estimated that these people own over 218 million pets. There is an increasing interest among pet owners to be able to care for their pets if they are not available to do so.
One option is a pet trust. Minnesota law actually includes a provision to set up a trust for the care of an animal. Minn. Stat. ‘ 501C.0408. A pet trust may be created during the owner’s lifetime. In a typical case, an owner would open up a checking account in the name of the trust and transfer funds into the account. The owner will need to appoint a trustee to care for the pet after the owner’s death. If a trust is created to care for more than one animal, then the trust shall continue until the death of the last surviving animal. The trust may not be enforced for more than 90 years after the owner’s death.
A pet trust may be enforced by a person appointed by the trust, or by a person appointed by a court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove an appointed trustee.
The trust should state where any excess trust funds go upon the death of the pet(s). An attorney should be consulted to prepare a pet trust.
Other non-trust options to provide for pets upon the death of the owner include an outright gift of the pet to a caregiver along with a specific gift for the animal’s care, an outright gift of the pet to a veterinarian or animal shelter, or a monetary gift made to a life care shelter in exchange for the pet’s lifetime care.