This statute represents Maine's pet trust law. The provides that a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal. The comment following the text of the statute clarifies what types of animal-related activities qualify as non-charitable versus charitable trusts.
1. To provide care for animal; termination. A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.
2. Enforcement. A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.
3. Intended use of property. Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to its intended use, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise, to the settlor's successors in interest.
2003, c. 618, § A-1, eff. July 1, 2005.
2005 Electronic Pocket Part Update
This section and the next section of the Code validate so called honorary trusts. Unlike honorary trusts created pursuant to the common law of trusts, which are arguably no more than powers of appointment, the trusts created by this and the next section are valid and enforceable. For a discussion of the common law doctrine, see Restatement (Third) of Trusts Section 47 (Tentative Draft No. 2, approved 1999); Restatement (Second) of Trusts Section 124 (1959).
This section addresses a particular type of honorary trust, the trust for the care of an animal. Section 409 specifies the requirements for trusts without ascertainable beneficiaries that are created for other noncharitable purposes. A trust for the care of an animal may last for the life of the animal. While the animal will ordinarily be alive on the date the trust is created, an animal may be added as a beneficiary after that date as long as the addition is made prior to the settlor's death. Animals in gestation but not yet born at the time of the trust's creation may also be covered by its terms. A trust authorized by this section may be created to benefit one designated animal or several designated animals.
Subsection (b) addresses enforcement. Noncharitable trusts ordinarily may be enforced by their beneficiaries. Charitable trusts may be enforced by the State's attorney general or by a person deemed to have a special interest. See Restatement (Second) of Trusts Section 391 (1959). But at common law, a trust for the care of an animal or a trust without an ascertainable beneficiary created for a noncharitable purpose was unenforceable because there was no person authorized to enforce the trustee's obligations.
Sections 408 and 409 close this gap. The intended use of a trust authorized by either section may be enforced by a person designated in the terms of the trust or, if none, by a person appointed by the court. In either case, Section 110(b) grants to the person appointed the rights of a qualified beneficiary for the purpose of receiving notices and providing consents. If the trust is created for the care of an animal, a person with an interest in the welfare of the animal has standing to petition for an appointment. The person appointed by the court to enforce the trust should also be a person who has exhibited an interest in the animal's welfare. The concept of granting standing to a person with a demonstrated interest in the animal's welfare is derived from the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act, which allows a person interested in the welfare of a ward or protected person to file petitions on behalf of the ward or protected person. See, e.g., Uniform Probate Code Sections 5-210(b), 5-414(a).
Subsection (c) addresses the problem of excess funds. If the court determines that the trust property exceeds the amount needed for the intended purpose and that the terms of the trust do not direct the disposition, a resulting trust is ordinarily created in the settlor or settlor's successors in interest. See Restatement (Third) of Trusts Section 47 (Tentative Draft No. 2, approved 1999); Restatement (Second) of Trusts Section 124 (1959). Successors in interest include the beneficiaries under the settlor's will, if the settlor has a will, or in the absence of an effective will provision, the settlor's heirs. The settlor may also anticipate the problem of excess funds by directing their disposition in the terms of the trust. The disposition of excess funds is within the settlor's control. See Section 105(a). While a trust for an animal is usually not created until the settlor's death, subsection (a) allows such a trust to be created during the settlor's lifetime. Accordingly, if the settlor is still living, subsection (c) provides for distribution of excess funds to the settlor, and not to the settlor's successors in interest.
Should the means chosen not be particularly efficient, a trust created for the care of an animal can also be terminated by the trustee or court under Section 414. Termination of a trust under that section, however, requires that the trustee or court develop an alternative means for carrying out the trust purposes. See Section 414(c).
This section and the next section are suggested by Section 2-907 of the Uniform Probate Code, but much of this and the following section is new.
2005 Electronic Pocket Part Update
This section is new Maine law. The question of the validity of a trust for the care of a specific animal or animals has not previously been addressed in Maine. These types of arrangements are distinguishable from trusts having broader objectives such as the prevention of cruelty to animals or the benefit of animals generally such as through the maintenance of wildlife sanctuaries or animal habitat. Maine case law has indirectly addressed the question of whether arrangements for the care of animals generally qualify as charitable activities. See, e.g., Holbrook Island Sanctuary v. Inhabitants of Town of Brooksville, 214 A.2d 660, 161 Me. 476 (1965), a case concerning the charitable exemption for property taxes. Citing the Restatement (Second) of Trusts, Section 374 (1959), the Law Court stated: "A trust to prevent or alleviate the suffering of animals is charitable. Thus, a trust for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or a trust to establish a home for animals, or a trust for the prevention or cure or treatment of diseases or of injuries to animals, is charitable." However, the Law Court held that the operation of a wildlife sanctuary or preserve was not a charitable purpose.
Section 408 does not address these broader animal-related and wildlife-related arrangements, but section 409 may be applicable to those animal-related activities that do not qualify as charitable in nature.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
Laws 2003, c. 618, § A-2, provides:
"Sec. A-2. Effective date. This Part takes effect July 1, 2005."