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.