Rhode Island Will Animal Trust

If you’re making a Rhode Island Will, make sure you include your pet. There is a safe way to leave money or property to your pets by creating a trust.
You simply name a trustee to look after the trust property. They must do so in the best interests of the animals covered by the trust. To ensure there is no embezzlement, you can also name a person to enforce the trust conditions on behalf of your pet. Perhaps the carer of your pet can have these rights. The pet’s carer and trustee should be separate individuals. You should also name the guardian as beneficiary of your animal in your Will. Remember, you can’t leave excessive amounts in the trust, it needs to be reasonable. Otherwise, the court can reduce the amount. Make sure to name beneficiaries to receive any unused or surplus trust property. The legislation for creating a Rhode Island Will animal trust is set forth in the Animals and Animal Husbandry statute (title 4): § 4-23-1 Trust for care of animals. – (a) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal, or if the trust was created to provided for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime upon the death of the last surviving animal. (b) Except as provided in this section, the provisions of the general laws which govern the creation and administration of express trusts applies to the trust for the care of an animal. (c) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove the appointed person. The appointed person shall have the rights of a trust beneficiary for the purpose of enforcing the trust, including receiving accountings, notices, and other information from the trustee and providing consents. (d) Property of a trust appointed by this person may be applied only to its intended use, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Property not required for the intended use, including the trust property remaining upon its termination, shall be distributed in the following order of priority: (1) As directed by the terms of the trust; (2) To the settlor, if then living; (3) Pursuant to the residuary clause of the settlor’s will; (4) To the settlor’s heirs in accordance with the Rhode Island general laws on descent and distribution. (e) A governing instrument shall be liberally construed in order to presume against the merely precatory or honorary nature of the disposition and to carry out the general intent of the transferor. Extrinsic evidence is admissible in determining the transferor’s intent. (f) If a trustee is not designated or designated trustee is not willing or able to serve, the probate court shall name a trustee; a court may order the transfer of the property to another trustee, if the court makes a factual finding that it is necessary to assure the intended use is carried out and if a successor trustee is not designated in the trust instrument or if a designated trustee does not agree to serve or is unable to serve.

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