This summer Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill which will protect pet trusts. The bill (SB 685) makes pet trusts enforceable. The bill was supported by the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) which estimates that over half of American families have at least one pet. The bill removes the discretion of the trustee in carrying out the trust and allows the court to appoint a caregiver if the trustee doesn’t want to act. The bill actually repeals a section of the Probate Code ( Section 15212) which made pet trusts honorary and not enforceable by law.
You may ask what types of pets are affected by this bill? The new legislation provides that for purposes of this code section, an “animal” means a domestic or pet animal for the benefit of which a trust has been established. Cats, dogs, birds, and horses would be covered. If an owner wanted to establish a trust for some other domestic pet such as a python snake (which can live 40 years) or a pot bellied pig, presumably they would be covered also. It is hoped that the new law which goes into effect in January 2009 will reduce the burden on pet shelters, protect defenseless animals, and guarantee that the wishes of pet owners are carried out.
To incorporate pet trust provisions into your estate plan, call us or e mail us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation to schedule a complimentary consultation. We can also amend existing trusts or create a revocable living trust with “pet” provisions.