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Does Tennessee law support the creation of a pet trust?

According to Tennessee trust laws, animal lovers can use a trust to pay for the care of their animals after they have passed away. These so-called "pet trusts" terminate when the animal dies, or -- in cases where the trust offers care to more than one animal -- the trust terminates when the last surviving animal dies. These trusts, however, may not last longer than 90 years.

Here are some of the provisions included in Tennessee's "pet trust" law:

  • Animal owners can create a pet trust to care for an animal or multiple animals for up to 90 years. The trust will terminate upon the death of the last surviving animal associated with the trust.
  • The following individuals can enforce the terms of the pet trust so long as the trust has appointed them: a trust protector, a trust advisor or other individuals appointed by the trust. If no person has been appointed, the court will do so.
  • Individuals who are interested in the well-being of the animals covered by the trust can petition the court to remove a specifically appointed person and appoint a new person to enforce the trust terms.
  • The property held inside a pet trust may only be used as the trust intends it to be used, unless the trust property has a value that goes beyond its intended use. In such a case, the extra property will be distributed to the successors of the trust creator.

A pet trust is an excellent option to leave money for the care of a pet after the owner passes away. As such, all Tennessee pet owners may wish to investigate the incorporation of such a pet trust into their estate plans.

Source: Animal Law Info, "West's Tennessee Code Annotated. Title 35. Fiduciaries and Trust Estates. Chapter 15. Tennessee Uniform Trust Code. Part 4. Creation, Validity, Modification, and Termination of Trust. § 35-15-408. Trust for care of animal.," accessed March 22, 2018

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