A Pet Trust? Pets as our "children"? We are supposed to consider including our pet animals - dogs, cats, birds, etc. - as "family members" and "loved ones" who should be covered in our testamentary trust or will and our estate planning? Are not these just mere "animals"? Well, not quite so any more these days! Americans own a huge number of pets, including about 68 million dogs and 73 million cats, according to a 2000 estimate by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. What is even particularly fundamental, however, from the sociological standpoint and the transformation of the American society, is this: That for a great many Americans, and a growing number of them, their home pets are now considered a bona fide member of the family, "and not just" animals "any more. An October 1999 survey by the newspaper USA Today, for example, found that more than 66% of American pet owners said they consider their pets "a member of the family." In a more recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, a whopping 84% of American pet owners were reported to think of their animal companions as being their kids. In deed, a more telling evidence of the dramatic evolution of the pet from mere 'animals' towards the highly exulted status of a' family member 'in the American society, is the general attitude of the pet owners towards their pets and simply the way they treat, respect and relate with their pets. For example, according to surveys, some 79% of pet owners allow their pets to sleep in their beds with them, while 3% of them even pets count in the number of IRS they claim for withholding tax purposes. The evidence is simply astounding: 50% of American pet owners talk "baby talk" to their pets, 37% of them carry a picture of their pets in their wallets, 27% of them include their pets in their wills or testamentary trusts; while 8% buy health insurance for their pets. There's more. Nowadays, the "custody fights" over pets among divorcing couples who own pets, are among the most hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings; pet owners now throw lavish wedding and birthday parties for dogs, cats, and other pet animals, more adults today have pets than children, and so on and on. Summed up simply, just about all those kinds of special rights, privileges and actions that have traditionally been reserved for and directed towards protecting and caring for human children, are, today, now used to protect and care for pets, as well. In other words, gradually but surely, there is now in the American society a new and increasingly significant kind of "family members" and "children." It's called the non-human animal or pet family members and children! And that brings us to this major question: how has the American law evolved in response to this developing new sociological reality in the American society? In terms of providing our new-found pet animal "infant children" the essential legal rights, protections and care as would be fitting for our human "infant children? Suffice it to say simply, that a new specialized area of law has developed in the American case law pertaining to this issue. One significant aspect of it is what is known as the "pet trust" law. In point of fact, the American pet owners have for centuries expressed concerns and interest in establishing an estate plan for their animals in the same manner as people plan for their spouses and children, but that general impulse had for so long been resisted by the State legislatures and the Courts based on one legal rationale or the other. However, beginning in the 1990s, under the guidelines established by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, State legislatures (at least 40 of them as of 2006) and the courts have adopted laws which address precisely those concerns and now permit the creation of trusts specifically for the care and custody of designated pets and their offspring in times of the incapacity or death of their owner. Basically, with a legally valid 'pet trust,' you (the pet owner) can make specific provisions as to the care of your pets in the event of your disability or death, and provide for a reliable caretaker and funding arrangement for all the pet of which will be legally enforceable by the courts. Thus, with the "pet trust," a relatively recent estate planning tool applicable for pet animals, you can assure that in the event of any such emergency, your pets will not likely wind up in the pound or shelter awaiting euthanasia somewhere, but will be taken into a safe home and will be properly cared for by a responsible, caring caretaker.

What? A Pet Trust? Pets of our "children"? We are supposed to consider, including our pets - dogs, cats, birds, etc. - that "family members" and "close" that should be addressed in our testamentary trust or will and our estate planning? These are not mere "animals"?

Well, not quite so most of our days!

The Americans have an enormous number of pets, including about 68 million dogs and 73 million cats, according to a 2000 estimate by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. What is fundamental, however, the sociological and the transformation of American society, is as follows: That, for many Americans, and a growing number of them, their pets are now regarded as bona fide "member of the family" and not just "animals", not more.

An October 1999 study by USA Today, for example, found that over 66% of pet owners said they were Americans consider their pets to "family member". In a more recent study by the American Animal Hospital Association, a huge 84% of pet owners U.S. were reported to think about their animal companions as their children.
Indeed, a more indicative of dramatic changes in the animal from mere "animals" at the very exulted status of "family member" in American society, is the general attitude of the owners of animals to their pets and just how they are handling and what is relevant to their pet. For example, according to surveys, about 79% of pet owners allow their pets to sleep in bed with them, while 3% of them have even count the number of animals in IRS withholding that 'they claim for tax purposes. The evidence is simply unbelievable: 50% of pet owners talk American "baby talk" to their pet, 37% of them carry a picture of their pet in their portfolio, 27% of them their pets include testamentary trusts in their wills or, while 8% buy health insurance for their pets. There is more. Today, the "custody battles" on pets among divorcing couples own pets, are among the most hotly contested in the divorce proceedings, pet owners now throwing lavish weddings and celebrations of Anniversary for dogs, cats and other pets, most adults today have pets than children, and so on.
Simply, almost all types of special rights, privileges and actions that have been traditionally reserved for and directed towards the protection and care of the children of men, are now being used to protect and care for pets, as well. In other words, slowly but surely, there are now in American society and a new kind of increasingly important "family members" and "children". It is called the non-human or pet family members and children!
And that brings us to this great question: how a U.S. law evolved in response to this new development in the sociological reality of American society? In terms of our new found pet "children" the basic rights, care and protection that would be good for people "little children"? Simply saying that a new specialized field of law has developed in American jurisprudence on this issue. An important aspect is what is known as the "pet trust" law. In fact, the American pet owners for centuries, have expressed concerns and interests of the establishment of a succession plan for their animals in the same way as people plan their spouses and children but the general impetus for so long been fought by the state legislatures and courts on the basis of legal reasoning or the other. However, since the 1990s, under the guidelines established by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, the state legislatures (at least 40 of them as of 2006) and the courts have adopted laws dealing precisely these concerns and now allow the creation of trusts specifically for the care of animals described and their children in times of incapacity or death of their owner.

Basically, with the legal validity of "pet trust, you (the owner of the animal) may take specific measures in the care of your pets in case of disability or death, and provide a reliable goalkeeper and funding for all pets to be legally enforceable by the courts.

1 commentaires

Abagale said... @ 8/19/2009

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Betty

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