The New Pet Trust Law and the Proposed Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code

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Liza M. Connelly, Esq., Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster

In January 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed H. 1467 into law, making Massachusetts the 44th state to adopt a pet trust law. On April 7, 2011, the pet trust law came into effect. The law will be listed as M.G.L. c. 203, § 3C.

The proposed Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code (“MUTC”) also contains pet trust provisions in § 408. The most frequently asked question I heard once the pet trust bill was passed into law was: “How will this new law work with the proposed MUTC?” The answer is that the pet trust statute will be inserted into § 408 of the proposed MUTC and will completely replace the existing § 408.

In March of 2011, I met with Eric Hayes and Ray Young, two members of the MUTC Ad Hoc Committee, to discuss how the pet trust law would work with the proposed MUTC if it is passed. The MUTC Ad Hoc Committee suggested that the existing terms of § 408 of the proposed MUTC be lifted out and replaced with the pet trust law. If the proposed MUTC is adopted, the pet trust statute in M.G.L. c. 208, § 3C will be removed with a reference to the MUTC § 408 so that the only pet trust provision will be contained in the MUTC.

The proposed MUTC’s replacement of § 408 with the pet trust statute will ensure that there are no gaps, conflicts or overlaps between the proposed MUTC and existing pet trust statute.

The members of the MUTC Ad Hoc Committee also requested one change to the statute. The pet trust statute as passed into law specifically exempts pet trusts created under it from the Rule Against Perpetuities (“RAP”). The MUTC Ad Hoc Committee has requested that the RAP be added back in, with the compromised language stating that the lives in being shall be measured on the animal or animals alive at the time of the settlor’s death or when the pet trust becomes irrevocable. The drafters and proponents of the pet trust law have agreed to this change, and it will be incorporated into the proposed MUTC.

If the proposed MUTC is adopted, the existing pet trust statute will replace the text currently found in MUTC § 408 and will contain RAP provisions. For the present time, the pet trust statute remains as drafted and passed into law.