Create An Honorary Trust To Protect Your Pet In California

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Having acquired a substantial amount of funds from various start-ups, a man who is a passionate advocate of animal rights bought a large tract of land where he cares for abandoned and injured animals. Concerned about what will happen to his favorite dog, the man placed $75,000 in a trust for the care of his dog, naming a nearby bank as the trustee. The trustee was directed to use the income and principal of the trust to care for the dog for the rest of the dog’s life. Any remaining funds were to be distributed to an environmental non-profit group. To assist individuals seeking to protect their animals in the event of the individual’s death, a progressive attorney can draft an honorary trust.

Ensuring the future of your pet

An honorary trust is created when all trust elements are met, except there is no beneficiary who can enforce the trust. In California, honorary trusts are valid for the lifetime of the animal, and are not subject to the rule against perpetuities. The California Probate Code defines an animal as a domestic or pet animal for the benefit of which the trust has been established. If the trust document does not cite an individual who can enforce the trust, the court will nominate a person.  Under Cal. Prob. Code §15212, a trust for the care of an animal requires:

  • Principal or income cannot be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the benefit of the animal.
  • Upon termination of the trust, the trustee shall distribute the unexpended trust property.
  • Residuary clause can be treated as creating a future interest under the terms of a trust.

In the case above, the man transferred $75,000 in a trust to the bank for the care of his favorite dog. The trust will likely be deemed valid and will last for the duration of the dog’s lifetime.  When the man passes, the remaining funds will be distributed to an environmental non-profit group. A prominent California estate planning law firm analyzes a client’s estate to determine the best strategy for fulfilling a client’s objectives.

Retain highly skilled California estate planning attorneys

The lawyers at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP offer clients efficient and effective representation. Our office represents clients in Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County and the surrounding areas.