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Sunday, August 10, 2008

A New Pet Trust Statute for Californians

The California Legislature recently enacted a new Pet Trust Statute. Delaware recently enacted a similar law. Here are some highlights of California's new law, which will be placed in the California Probate Code as section 15212 :

• Lawful for a non charitable purpose. The new law would make the creation of a pet trust lawful for purpose of caring for a domestic animal so long as the animal is alive.

• Principal and Income of the Trust. The principal and income of the trust may not be used for any purpose other than for the care of the animal, unless specified otherwise in the trust instrument.

• Enforcement of Principal and Income Provisions. The person authorized in the trust instrument to enforce the principal and income provisions has the authority to file an appropriate petition in the Superior Court, as may any person having an interest in the animal’s welfare. A charitable organization having as its principal activity the care of animals may enforce the trust provisions. Otherwise, the court may appoint a trust enforcer. Any such person (including the charitable organization) may inspect the animal, or see the books of the trust.

• Appointment of a Trustee. The Court may appoint a trustee if none is named in the trust instrument.

• Upon the Death of the Animal. The new law specifies a manner of distribution to remainder beneficiaries upon the death of the animal, unless otherwise provided in the trust instrument.

• Accountings. Usually, accountings are required for a trust. However, the animal obviously cannot evaluate an account. Thus, accounts are to be given to the remainder beneficiaries. However, accounts are not required of any pet trust having a value of less than $40,000.

(A hat tip to Professor Beyer for bringing this to my attention).

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