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Monthly Archives: July 2011

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Pet Trusts

Yes, they are a real thing, and at least 43 states and the District of Columbia have enacted pet trust statutes.  In January, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law “An Act Relative to Trusts for the Care of Animals,” and that law took effect in April, 2011.  This article will discus what they are designed to do and why they are good for the commonwealth.  I know that most people might laugh at the sight of this article but, if anything, it is a fun read.

What they are designed to do: a pet trust is really no different from any other type of trust.  A pet trust is designed to hold assets for the benefit of a designated beneficiary.  In this case, the beneficiary is your pet(s). It appoints a fiduciary (trustee) to carry out what is set forth in the trust document, just like any other type of trust.  The only real difference is that the trust also appoints a caretaker.  This is the person in charge of managing the pet(s)’ maintenance, health, and welfare.  It seems like the caretaker is similar to a guardian.  As you can see, nothing that different from any other type of trust out there.

They are beneficial to the Commonwealth, because:  In today’s society, more and more people are treating their pets as part of their family.  Many people even want to care for these pets when they die or become incapacitated.  But until this law was enacted, requiring someone to care for your pet was not backed by the law.  This was true even if you put away money specifically for this purpose.  The person that was named to care for the pet was free to do whatever he/she wanted to do with the money and the pet(s).  Meaning, they could take the money that was left for Fluffy, drop him off at the pound and go spend the money on whatever he/she pleased, and there was nothing that could be done about it.  A pet trust solves these problems.  This law makes the trustee and caretaker responsible for the care of the pet(s).

This also takes the burden off of shelters.  With the state of the economy, shelters have become inundated with abandoned and uncared for pets.  This has left shelters strapped for cash and often overcrowded.  WIth a pet trust, you plan for your pet’s care before you die or become incapacitated.  This alleviates the burden on loved ones finding a new home for your pets.  It also prevents them from dropping the pet off at a shelter where his future becomes uncertain.

Coming for the guy who had a picture of a dog put on the home page of his law firm, I do not think this is a bad idea.  I must tell you, however, I do not have a pet trust.  If by creating a pet trust gave me peace of mind in knowing that my pet is cared for, does not end up in a shelter, and does not become financial burden on someone else, I am all for it.

Reasons for Having a Prenuptial Agreement

Today more and more people are considering prenuptial agreements.  It is no longer the rich and famous who are considering that they should have their significant other sign a prenuptial agreement.  This blog will discuss some reasons for considering a prenuptial agreement.

To start, contemplating whether to create a prenuptial agreement does not mean that your marriage is destined to fail from the beginning.  A prenuptial agreement might actually be a good thing for the marriage.  Creating a prenuptial agreement makes both parties stop and throughly examine their financial affairs. It makes both parties look at what they have in current assets, future assets, and how those assets would be distributed in the even that the marriage ended.  Most people do not find it comfortable to talk about finances with their future spouse, especially if there is a significant difference between the two.  By creating a prenuptial agreement, both are required to fully disclose all their assets.  This up front, in-your-face presentation is probably the only time that either party would be willing to be so forward with their finances.

Some Reasons for Creating a Prenuptial Agreement:

  1. Do you own real estate?
  2. Do you have over $50,000 worth of assets, other than real estate?
  3. Do you currently earn a salary greater than $100,000.
  4. Do you have valuable employment benefits, such as profit sharing plans, stock options, or any other type of vested interest?
  5. Do you have or are you pursuing an advanced degree?
  6. Do you own your own business?

These are some of the basic questions to ask when considering whether to execute a prenuptial agreement.  This list is not exhaustive, but if you can answer yes to any of those questions, you have a good reason for considering a prenuptial agreement.

If you decide that a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for you, you have to start talking to your future spouse about signing one.  If they also think that it would be appropriate, you both should seek separate legal assistance.  Having independent legal assistance is important.  Although, having only one lawyer represent both parties does not mean that the prenuptial agreement would automatically invalid.  It would, however, subject the prenuptial agreement to harsher scrutiny in the event of divorce.  Separate, independent legal assistance is 100% necessary in my opinion.  Independent counsel will do what is in their client’s best interest.  They will also work better with the other party and their attorney to develop a prenuptial agreement that is valid and enforceable.

My Landlord Didn’t Pay His Mortgage, Do I Still Need to Pay My Rent?

So you have been faithfully paying rent to your landlord for years, and just a few days ago you find out that your landlord has not been faithfully paying his mortgage.  Now what happens? How is the foreclosure going to affect your rights as a tenant?

The good news is, your rights do not significantly change.  You are still the lawful tenant, even after the foreclosure auction.  Just because there is a new owner of the building does not mean that you have to immediately leave.  Sure, you might find that the new owner wants you to leave, the new owner may even try to persuade you into thinking that you have to leave.  If the new owner wants you to leave, he has to follow the same procedure as any other landlord would.

It is important to mention, you still have to continue to pay your rent.  After the foreclosure, you will have to determine who the new owner is and how you should be paying him.  This is important.  Most new owners, if they do not want you to remain on the property, will intentionally make an effort for you not pay them.  This will, in short, make it easier for them to evict you later on.  You should do your due diligence and try to locate the new owner and make payment to that person.  By doing so, you preserve your interest in the property.  Even if you cannot locate the appropriate person to pay you should be putting that monthly payment aside, just in case the new owner seeks payment later.

If you had a lease agreement with the previous landlord, this agreement terminates.  The lease agreement terminates, not the actual tenancy.  This is because a lease is automatically converted into a tenancy at will after a foreclosure.

In conclusion, your rights might not significantly change, but you have to be aware of the situation and understand some of the tactics that a new owner might use to better themselves.  If you feel that a new landlord is trying to take advantage of you, you should contact an attorney to help you understand your rights.