Dog Trusts

We are so wealthy we leave our money to our pets when we die. Washington is one of 46 states and the District of Columbia at last count that expressly allow people to erect trusts for animals. This is not just for dogs or cats, the statute allows a person to leave a trust for the benefit of any non-human animal as long as it has a vertebrae.

So dont try to sneak in a worm trusts, do you hear?

The Settlor doesn’t even have to have any particular animals in mind when the trust is drafted. I was briefly associated with one trust where the old fella had a large tract of land near the mountains during his life and left the whole thing to the woodland creatures that lived there, so they would have a refuge for as long as the trust could last, which according to our Rule Against Perpetuities is 150 years.

But the Rule of Ugly Facts intervened to shorten it’s life dramatically. The Woodland Creature Trust immediately ran into trouble as it didnt have a person or society lined up to take care of it, pay the taxes and insurance or otherwise protect the trust. Several nature societies were approached but there were no takers. It looked like the Trust would fail, and the land be sold off.

Of course if this were a Disney film the woodland creatures would all speak English, and a badger like individual who is also a licensed member of the bar would file an action entitled Bambi et. al. vs. Woodland Creature Trust in our Superior Court. The nadir moment of the film would feature the human vertebrae on the bench ruling against the non-human vertebrae and sending the human vertebrae tax collector out to auction off the woodland for back taxes.

Disney’s formula film always has a villain with a pencil thin mustache ( c.f. Jaffar in Aladdin or John Clayton in Tarzan ) and the tax collector would look like either. Of course the cute Disney non-human vertebrae would somehow prevail and we would all leave the theater humming the theme song.

But this scenario belongs in Never Never Land. My last experience with the case at bar was to be fired by the decedants sisters because I had to tell them the only way for this woodland trust to work was to sell some of it to a developer to finance the thing. But that is not what our brother wanted….

Why is it people expect they can have at death what they cannot have during life?

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