California May Recognize Pet Trusts

Legislation is designed to secure care for companion animals in cases of disability, death.

Posted: July 9, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Most cats and dogs may not get a fortune when their owners die, as was the case of Trouble, the pet dog owned by famed real estate and hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, but they can get the guarantee that the wishes of their owners are fulfilled in cases of disability or death.

With unanimous votes in the State Assembly and State Senate last week, the California Legislature sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill designed to protect companion animals after the death of their owners. Senate Bill 685, by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, is aimed at reducing the burden on shelters, conserving public services and funds, protecting defenseless animals and ensuring that the plans of pet owners are executed in cases of disability or death.

“Pets are an important part of the American family,” Yee said in a statement. “SB 685 will make pet trusts enforceable and assure that the wishes of pet owners are respected.”

Currently, unlike most states, pet trusts in California are honorary and not enforceable by law. SB 685 addresses the present difficulty enforcing the administration of pet trusts by removing the discretion of trustees in fulfilling the trust. Additionally, the bill allows courts to appoint a caregiver if the trustee doesn’t wish to arrange for the pet care.

“Wills and trusts are the means for people to bestow their possessions and savings as they see fit,” Yee said. “Under SB 685, a pet owner will be assured that their pet will be properly cared for after their passing while also ensuring that kin are not burdened with undue pressure.”

The governor has 12 days to sign or veto the measure.


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Stephanie   Webster, TX

2/16/2010 1:37:12 PM

Very interesting article. Hope the governor signs the bill.

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John   NY, NY

9/28/2009 7:45:34 PM

RE: Liza in Grand Bay-Westfield, NB. Chances are that NB does honor pet trusts. An unbreakable blank form for a pet trust that need only be notarized can be obtained from or by calling Rachel Hirschfeld, Esq. tel 877-PETTRUST. The cost is $80 or zero if you qualify for hardship.

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LIza   Grand Bay-Westfield, NB

7/9/2008 8:32:30 PM

I wish we had laws like that here. My husband and I are trying to figure out what to set up for our pets in the case of both of us dying at the same time. It looks as though the shelter may be where they end up. I volunteer as a fundraiser for the local shelter but I don't want my babies to have to live there.

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Karen   Standish, ME

7/9/2008 6:37:44 PM

This is a great start!

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