Q What is the Difference Between Providing for Your Pet through a Will or a Standalone Trust?
Most states have laws which allow pet owners to include provisions in their wills that provide for their pets after their death.
Only four states do not have laws allowing pet ownders to provide for their pets in their wills as of this writing. Minnesota is one of the four states. That means that Minnesotans cannot reliably provide for their pets in their wills. Instead, Minnesotans need to use standalone pet trusts or other arrangements to provide for their pets after their death.
Even for states that do have laws that make it easy for pet owners to provide for their pets in their wills, standalone pet trusts are generally preferable to wills for two reasons:
1) Wills go through probate, which means that a court has to review the will before ownership of your pet is determined. Standalone pet trusts do not go through probate and so your wishes for your pet can be carried out much faster.
2) Courts have the ability to change the amount pet owners leave behind for their pets in their wills. Courts cannot change amounts that pet owners have established in standalone pet trusts.
3) When pet owners provide for their pets through a provision in their wills, they cannot direct how money left behind for the pet should be spent and generally cannot leave any enforceable instructions for their pet's care.