Good news, dog owners. Science has confirmed what we have known all along. Dogs are able to understand individual words and intonations much like us. Until this ground-breaking study, scientists thought that humans were the only species capable of separating what was said from how it was said. But after sticking six border collies, five golden retrievers, a German shepherd, and a Chinese crested into an MRI machine, this assumption was shattered. So it appears that man’s best friend is cognitively closer to humans than previously thought. Indeed, our canine companions often feel like intimate members of our families. Just like any family member, we play with our dogs, we care for our dogs, we talk to our dogs (and now we scientifically know they listen). In short, we treat our dogs like family in every sense but one—estate planning.
We all want to make sure our loved ones are provided for after we die. That is why we invest in robust estate planning, utilizing wills and trusts to ensure that those closest to us continued to be cared for. We make provisions for our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and other family members. But oftentimes one essential member of the family is forgotten—our pets.
Think about it, what would happen to your pet if you were no longer around? Who would care for them? Would your friends and family know what foods to feed or what medications to give them? How can you ensure that your pet continues to receive the love and care they need? These concerns are real. According to animal welfare organization “2nd Chance 4 Pets,” over 500,000 pets are abandoned each year due to the death or disability of their human companions.
For a long time, Minnesotan pet owners had little recourse to provide for their pets in the case of a tragedy. Unlike every other state in the country, Minnesota law did not recognize pet trusts. But that finally changed on May 22nd of this year when Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation approving pet trusts. This law, which went into effect on August 1st, allows for powerful legal documents giving pet owners the ability to not only set aside funds for their pet’s future care, but also stipulate exactly what kind of care you expect your pet to receive.
Pet Trusts allow:
- Complete control over every aspect of their pet’s future care
- The ability to stipulate their foods, their schedules, even their veterinarian
- For revocation, meaning owners can change and amend the trust at any time
- Owners to designate a separate trustee to oversee the funds and create a “checks and balances” system within the trust
- For activation if the owner becomes disabled or incapacitated (a will can’t do that)
Best of all, pet trusts are fully enforceable by the courts. So look into getting one, after all, your dogs are listening.