In Indiana, like most states, animals are viewed as personal property. Ordinarily a person cannot leave assets to personal property after death. For instance, an endowment of $1,000.00 to ‘my favorite chair’ is not allowed.
Indiana has carved out an exception for animals. Enacted in 2005, Indiana’s pet trust statute, Indiana Code § 30-4-2-18, recognizes trusts created for the benefit of a pet.
A trust can be created to provide care for a pet or pets that are alive during a settlor’s lifetime. The trust ends upon the death of the pet, or, if multiple pets are named, after the death of the last surviving pet. The settlor can name a caretaker, or the court may appoint one.
Property of a trust may only be applied for the trust’s intended use, with the exception being if the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the trust’s intended use. If the court determines that the value of the trust exceeds the amount needed to care for the pet, it can distribute the remainder to the settlor, if living, or the settlor’s beneficiaries or heirs.
It is recommended that someone is appointed to enforce the trust, in case the caretaker does not comply with the trust provisions. It is also recommended that a secondary beneficiary be named to receive the remaining trust funds, if the pet dies before the trust funds are fully used.
There are other alternatives to a pet trust. For example, Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine offers the Peace of Mind Program, which finds homes and provides medical care for pets in exchange for a testamentary gift to the veterinary school. The program requires a minimum bequest of $25,000.00 per pet.
Indiana recognizes that a trust may be created for the benefit of a pet to ensure the pet will continue to enjoy the quality of care provided during the settlor’s lifetime after the settlor passes.
If you have questions about the Indiana pet trust statute, contact Cecelia Neihouser Harper at 765-637-9175.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.