Until recently, Minnesota was one of the few remaining states that did not allow for a trust to be created for the benefit of animal. However, this past legislative session H.F. No. 1372 was signed into law by Governor Dayton, which includes the statute to allow for the creation of a “pet trust.”
Under Minn. Stat. §501C.0408, “a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime.” The trust will terminate upon the death of that animal, or if the trust is for the benefit of multiple animals alive during the settlor’s lifetime upon the death of the last surviving animal.
The trust may appoint a person to enforce the terms of the trust. However, in the event the trust does not appoint such person, anyone who has “…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 person.” Additionally, the trust property must only be used for the intended use of the trust. Nevertheless, the court has the ability to determine that the value of the trust exceeds the amount necessary for the intended use.
The trust may designate the distribution of any remaining trust assets upon the termination of the trust. In the event that no such designation is made, the remaining trust assets will be distributed to the settlor’s heirs-at-law according to the intestate statutes.
Lastly, an irrevocable trust established for the benefit of an animal is subject to the conditions of Minn. Stat. §501C.1206, which is to say that an individual who is seeking public assistance for health and medical cannot use such trust to shelter assets in order to qualify for the public assistance.
Should you have any interest in including gifts for the benefit of animals in your estate planning, be sure to contact an attorney to set up a proper plan.