Utah Will Pet Trust

The Probate Code enables pet owners to set up a trust for their animal under a Utah Will. The trust is set up for the care of your ‘designated domestic or pet animal’. The person you appoint as Trustee must use the trust funds as directed in the Will or for the benefit of a covered animal. The pet trust terminates once your companion animal dies and any unused funds must be transferred in accordance with your Utah Last Will and Testament.

The trust is not intended to be a mechanism for you to leave all your property to your pet. The Court has the power to reduce the amount of the trust if it believes the amount substantially exceeds what’s required for the intended use (to pay for maintenance costs and expenses for your pet during its lifetime). Here is the actual provision regarding pet trusts in a Utah Will: 75-2-1001. Honorary trusts — Trusts for pets. (1) Subject to Subsection (3), if a trust is for a specific lawful noncharitable purpose or for a lawful noncharitable purpose to be selected by the trustee and there is no definite or definitely ascertainable beneficiary designated, the trust may be performed by the trustee for 21 years but no longer whether or not the terms of the trust contemplate a longer duration. (2) Subject to this Subsection (2) and Subsection (3), a trust for the care of a designated domestic or pet animal is valid. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust. A governing instrument shall be liberally construed to bring the transfer within this subsection, 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. (3) In addition to the provisions of Subsection (1) or (2), a trust covered by either of those subsections is subject to the following provisions: (a) Except as expressly provided otherwise in the trust instrument, no portion of the principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the trust’s purposes or for the benefit of a covered animal. (b) Upon termination, the trustee shall transfer the unexpended trust property in the following order: (i) as directed in the trust instrument; (ii) if the trust was created in a nonresiduary clause in the transferor’s will or in a codicil to the transferor’s will, under the residuary clause in the transferor’s will; and (iii) if no taker is produced by the application of Subsection (3)(b)(i) or (ii), to the transferor’s heirs under Section 75-2-711. (c) For the purposes of Section 75-2-707, the residuary clause is treated as creating a future interest under the terms of a trust. (d) The intended use of the principal or income can be enforced by an individual designated for that purpose in the trust instrument or, if none, by an individual appointed by a court upon application to it by an individual. (e) Except as ordered by the court or required by the trust instrument, no filing, report, registration, periodic accounting, separate maintenance of funds, appointment, or fee is required by reason of the existence of the fiduciary relationship of the trustee. (f) A court may reduce the amount of the property transferred, if it determines that that amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use. The amount of the reduction, if any, passes as unexpended trust property under Subsection (3)(b). (g) If no trustee is designated or no designated trustee is willing or able to serve, a court shall name a trustee. A court may order the transfer of the property to another trustee, if required to assure that the intended use is carried out and if no successor trustee is designated in the trust instrument or if no designated successor trustee agrees to serve or is able to serve. A court may also make such other orders and determinations as shall be advisable to carry out the intent of the transferor and the purpose of this section.

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