What about Fido?!
63% of Americans own a pet. Are you worried about your pet when you pass away? If your answer is ‘yes,’ then this entry can assist you in figuring out how to handle your concerns.
In Minnesota, you have some options, ranging from informal arrangements to more formal arrangements. Some options are listed below:
(Informal) Conversation with your family and friends:
The two most important reasons to have the conversation is to 1) avoid surprises upon your death about who will care for your pet, and 2) make an appropriate choice for the new pet owner among your family/friends, and decide whether you will arrange any financial support for that person.
Carry your pet’s information with you (in your wallet perhaps) in case you become ill or unable to care for them temporarily (ID number, location, medical issues, and phone numbers of possible caretakers).
(Informal) Written Instructions to your friends and family:
Written instructions are always better as a confirmation of a prior conversation (as opposed to a substitute for a conversation), but putting your instructions in writing and including them with your estate planning documents commonly goes a bit farther than just a conversation. Remember, however, that written instructions, although helpful, do not create a legal document just because they are included alongside your will.
(Formal) Include your pet in your Will:
If you are concerned about adding some formality and legal backing to your wishes, you may wish to include your instructions in your will. If you already have a will, talk to an attorney about how to add these instructions to an existing will. If you do not have a will yet, perhaps your concern over your pet will get you thinking about another reason to make one.
A few things to remember when you include your pet in your will:
1) NAME THE NEW OWNER – Your pet, whether you think of them this way or not, is considered an item of personal property, like your couch or your books. If you do nothing, your pet will be “distributed” as an item of personal property to those who would inherit from you. If you add a provision, name the new owner of the pet, like you would your home or your car. And, be sure to provide an alternative owner (a “back-up”) in case something happens to the first choice.
2) CONSIDER PROVIDING FUNDS TO CARE FOR YOUR PET – You cannot leave money directly to your pet. In other words, Fido cannot inherit from you. But, you can leave money to a new owner for the purpose of caring for Fido. In which case, be sure you have thought carefully about who would be a good choice as new owner, and who would actually wish to be the new owner. There are some risks here. You cannot force someone to look after your pet. And, when you leave someone money in your will, although you may direct that recipient in your will to use the money to care for your pet, you cannot obligate them to use the money in that way. (Yet another reason to select the new owner very carefully!) Select someone you trust, and select someone you know will care for your pet as you would.
** You should know that Minnesota is one of only a handful of states that DO NOT recognize Statutory Pet Trusts.
Talk to an attorney about writing your will and including a clause that will appropriately handle your concerns about your pet(s). If you already have a will and would like to add a provision to address your pet, talk to an attorney who can draft this addition properly. Fido deserves it!This blog is written by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, Attorney DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC www.decorolaw.com
ALL READERS: This blog is not, nor shall it be deemed to be, legal advice or counsel. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. It is designed to encourage thoughtful consideration of important legal issues with the expectation that readers will seek professional advice from a licensed attorney.Contact Bridget-Michaele Reischl at: DECORO LAW OFFICE, PLLC 6 West 5th Street, Suite 800-D Saint Paul, MN 55102 (651)-321-3058 firstname.lastname@example.org