Our pets can feel like family sometimes and now Minnesota law lets you treat them that way. In 2016, Minnesota was the final state to add a provision to its trust code to allow for pet trusts. A pet trust allows you to leave funds for the care of your animal after you are gone.

Legal Requirements of a Pet Trust

The name “pet trust” may conjure up images of dogs and cats, but in fact there is no restriction on the type of animal that can be named in a pet trust. Iguanas, guinea pigs, and parakeets are all fair game. In order to be valid, however, the pet trust can only name an animal that is alive at the pet owner’s death. This means you can name Spot in your pet trust, but not Spot’s future puppies. And good news for tortoise lovers—a pet trust can exist for up to 90 years.

Who Should Care for Your Pet?

Your pet trust should name a trustee, or manager, to use the funds you have set aside for your pet’s care. The trustee should be someone you not only trust, but that is also willing and able to care for your pet. We recommend that our clients name two or three back up trustees as well. As a last resort, you might consider naming your local rescue shelter as trustee. Minnesota law also permits naming a trust enforcer, or someone that will make sure your trustee is following your instructions.

How Much Money to Put in Your Pet Trust

The money you set aside in trust for your beloved cat or dog should be a reasonable amount. What is “reasonable” will depend largely on the type of animal, its life expectancy, annual expenses for food, veterinary care, etc. and finally, whether you would like to compensate your trustee. Any money left in the pet trust after the animal dies will go to the beneficiary named as the recipient of the leftover funds, or, if no one is named, to your heirs.


The attorneys at Rochford Langins Jarstad are your experienced estate planning lawyers that can help you make sure Fido is taken care of after you are gone. Call us today at 507-534-3119.