If you answered "all but one," then you are our grand prize winner.
However, that may not be the case for long.
A legislator in the lone holdout state, Minnesota, has submitted a bill to bring the Gopher State into the fold (or litter, or flock, or herd, or gaggle, or clutch ....).
Sidebar: Wisconsin, a neighboring state, has authorized residents to leave money in trusts for their pets since 1969.
This furry factoid and others were reported in a recent WDAY.com article titled "Who will care for your pet when your die? Trust bill proposed."
It seems that Rep. Dennis Smith, most likely along with his dog Reagan, planned to make the case to Smith's colleagues that it was time for Minnesota to end this unique designation.
Smith is an animal lover with no fewer than two photos of his golden retriever mixed-breed pup in his legislative office. He also has Reagan, along with his wife and children, on his campaign website.
As an attorney, Smith notes that his clients make gifts to their pets in their estate planning about one-third of the time.
This is not the same as in other states that currently allow pet trusts by statute.
What is the distinction?
In a pet trust, any cash left for the care of a pet must be spent on the pet as a matter of law. When the pet dies, then any money remaining in the trust could pass to other heirs or be distributed as instructed in the trust or as determined by the probate court.
In addition, under the terms of a pet trust could be used to care for a pet when its owner is still alive but is no longer able to care for the pet.
According to Smith, a pet trust would not allow the trustmaker to avoid debts or taxes out of his or her estate.
Consequently, permitting pet trusts would be tax neutral when it comes to Gopher State coffers.
This is important, since Minnesota has its own estate tax independent of the federal estate tax.
If you are in one of the states already permitting pet trusts (i.e., every state but Minnesota), then contact an experienced estate planning attorney to help you create a pet trust. That way you can always provide for your special friend whether he or she has feathers, fins or fur.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify. Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: WDAY.com (April 7, 2016) "Who will care for your pet when your die? Trust bill proposed"