Firm News

What Happens to Your Pets When You Die? Planning Can Protect Them (Kendra K. Bader quoted)

Kendra K. Bader, a member of Moss & Barnett's wealth preservation and estate planning team, was quoted in the St. Cloud Times article, "What happens to your pets when you die? Planning can protect them" (written by Stephanie Dickrell, Nov. 18, 2018). Excerpts from that article appear below.

"It's something people don't typically think about," said Kendra Bader, an attorney with Moss & Barnett.

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Bader worked with the Tri-County Humane Society to create a brochure for pet owners on how to prepare for their pet's future.

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"Clearly, it’s something that people do care about, and a lot of us do treat our pets as family members," Bader said. "I know I spend more time reading the labels of my dog's food than my own food."

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"If, in a will, you designate $5,000 to your sister to watch Fido, you sister can turn around and really do whatever with the money," Bader said.

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Bader recommends pet trusts, but you can also provide for your pet in your will. One benefit of trusts is that they can go into effect if you are still living, but incapacitated. . . . Bader said she hasn't had experience with these directly, but she does say to exercise caution. "It’s always best to have your attorney review it to confirm," Bader said.

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Alternatively, you can describe your pet vaguely, as "the pet(s) owned by you at the time of your illness or death." Bader recommends this option because we tend to outlive most of our pets.

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"You want it to be within reason, for a custodian to be able to follow through with it," Bader said. Bader also recommends naming a backup caregiver, or two or three. She recommends making your favorite rescue or shelter your last resort.

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Also consider costs for creating and administering the trust. Bader said most likely, the pet trust can be prepared with your other will trust provisions, possibly without any additional cost.

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In Minnesota, the trust can last until the last pet dies or up to 90 years. Bader said that is adequate to cover the lifetime of most pets, but some species may need special consideration.

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Bader said attorneys typically try to prepare trust documents so they don't need to be updated. But if you have a major life event, or you move to another state, check to see if it needs to be updated.

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