California has recognized that pets have now risen to become a new class of beneficiaries to a trust. Mans best friends have finally arrived at a point where their loving master may provide for their well being in those cases where they outlive their owner.
This California law allows a pet owner to create a trust for the care of a designated pet animal for the life of the animal.
The duration of the trust will be limited to the life of the pet.
Any person contemplating such a trust should make further arrangements in the trust document for trustee fees and the disposition of any remainder left after the life of the pet has been completed.
Statute in Full states as follows:
(a) Subject to the requirements of this section, a trust for the care of an animal is a trust for a lawful non-charitable purpose. Unless expressly provided in the trust, the trust terminates when no animal living on the date of the settlor's death remains alive. The governing instrument of the animal trust shall be liberally construed to bring the trust within this section, to presume against the merely precatory or honorary nature of the disposition, and to carry out the general intent of the settlor. Extrinsic evidence is admissible in determining the settlor's intent.
(b) A trust for the care of an animal is subject to the following requirements:
(1) Except as expressly provided otherwise in the trust instrument, the principal or income shall not be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the benefit of the animal.
(B) If the trust was created in a non-residuary clause in the settlor's will or in a codicil to the settlor's will, under the residuary clause in the settlor's will.
(C) If the application of subparagraph (A) or (B) does not result in distribution of unexpended trust property, to the settlor's heirs under Section 21114.
(3) For the purposes of Section 21110, the residuary clause described in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2) shall be treated as creating a future interest under the terms of a trust.
(c) The intended use of the principal or income may be enforced by a person designated for that purpose in the trust instrument or, if none is designated, by a person appointed by a court. In addition to a person identified in subdivision (a) of Section 17200, any person interested in the welfare of the animal or any nonprofit charitable organization that has as its principal activity the care of animals may petition the court regarding the trust as provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 17200) of Part 5.
(d) If a trustee is not designated or no designated or successor trustee is willing or able to serve, a court shall name a trustee. A court may order the transfer of the trust property to a court-appointed trustee, if it is required to ensure that the intended use is carried out and if a successor trustee is not designated in the trust instrument or if no designated successor trustee agrees to serve or is able to serve. A court may also make all other orders and determinations as it shall deem advisable to carry out the intent of the settlor and the purpose of this section.
(e) The accountings required by Section 16062 shall be provided to the beneficiaries who would be entitled to distribution if the animal were then deceased and to any nonprofit charitable corporation that has as its principal activity the care of animals and that has requested these accountings in writing. However, if the value of the assets in the trust does not exceed forty thousand dollars ($40,000), no filing, report, registration, periodic accounting, separate maintenance of funds, appointment, or fee is required by reason of the existence of the fiduciary relationship of the trustee, unless ordered by the court or required by the trust instrument.
(f) Any beneficiary, any person designated by the trust instrument or the court to enforce the trust, or any nonprofit charitable corporation that has as its principal activity the care of animals may, upon reasonable request, inspect the animal, the premises where the animal is maintained, or the books and records of the trust.
(g) A trust governed by this section is not subject to termination pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 15408.
(h) Section 15211 does not apply to a trust governed by this section.
(i) For purposes of this section, "animal" means a domestic or pet animal for the benefit of which a trust has been established.