When It's All Going to the Dogs - Planning Estates with Pets

December 1, 2005

Some people consider their animals to be members of their family. Other people have made a career out of breeding, raising and/or sheltering animals. When these individuals pass away, if they have not made provisions for the continuing care of their animals, the animals will pass through the decedent’s estate as would any item of personal property. Often, the recipient of the animals does not care to, or is not prepared to, take on the responsibility of the ongoing care of the animals. As a result, the animals are then euthanized, neglected or abandoned. To avoid this undesirable outcome, when an estate plan is established for an animal owner, the plan should address the specific concerns surrounding animal ownership.

Most often, an animal owner will desire to establish a trust for the benefit of their animals. Although approximately half of the United States, including New York, New Jersey and California, do recognize trusts that name an animal as the beneficiary, unfortunately, at this time, Massachusetts does not recognize such trusts. Fortunately, there are still options for the Massachusetts animal owner to consider in this regard.

If the animal owner truly desires a trust, while it is not possible to create an enforceable trust solely for the benefit of animals, it is possible to establish an enforceable trust for the benefit of the animals’ caretaker...

You may read more at the link below.

This article was distributed as handout material at a seminar at Suffolk University Law School called Beyond Boilerplate: Advanced Estate Planning for Singles, Unmarried and Same-Sex Couples

by: Gina M. Barry, Esquire

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