Law professor Gerry W. Beyer of Texas Tech University School of Law has written an article about pet trusts called “Pets Trusts: Fido with a Fortune?”
Dogs, cats, parrots, and other pet animals play extremely significant roles in the lives of many individuals. People own pets for a variety of reasons – they love animals, they enjoy engaging in physical activity with the animal such as playing ball or going for walks, and they enjoy the giving and receiving of attention and unconditional love. Research indicates that pet ownership positively impacts the owner’s life by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and depression, lowering the risk of heart disease, shortening the recovery time after a hospitalization, and improving concentration and mental attitude.
The primary goal of the pet owner’s attorney is to carry out the pet owner’s intent to the fullest extent allowed under applicable law. Accordingly, the attorney should select a method which has the highest likelihood of working successfully to provide for the pet after its owner’s death. (The pet owner should also determine if any special arrangements need to be made to care for the pet if the owner becomes disabled.) After discussing the history of providing for a pet after the owner’s death, this article discusses the variety of techniques currently available and comments on the advisability of each.
Special features of this article include: sample pet trust provisions; “client-friendly” FAQs; summary of tax concerns with pet trusts; comprehensive appendix with links to all pet trust statutes (42 states plus D.C.).