Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

1 minute reading time (290 words)

Our Furry Friends

In perusing the bulletin board in our office lunchroom I notice that we have posted ten photographs of our loved ones. Seven are pictures of pets and three are pictures of children.

In light of what is going on politically in our country and in the arguable deterioration of our social fabric one might argue that we are best served these days by the unconditional love and loyalty of our pets, our furry friends.

People have always expressed a concern of what will happen to their pets following their deaths. The traditional common law view was that individual pets do not have legally recognized existences, and for years attempts to provide for a particular pet (as against animals in general) was held to be against public policy. If you wanted to provide a fund for the care of a pet in your will you could set up what was referred to as a “honorary trust.” Under this approach, the animal protection depended wholly upon the “honor” of the “trustee” and, if the honorary trust was not carried out, no one could enforce it on behalf of the pet. In 1995, however, Colorado adopted a provision of the Uniform Probate Code which authorizes the creation of a trust under one’s will, for one’s pet or pets. The trust is limited to a specific animal or animals and may not continue for the benefit of the pet’s descendants. There are provisions for what happens to any leftover proceeds at the pet’s death. I have done such trusts for dogs, cats, and one horse. The critics of these trusts worry about what happens with long-lived parrots and tortoises, but, in the real world, the availability of pet trusts has been positive and useful.

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