South Carolina's pet trust law was originally enacted in 2006. A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal or animals alive or in gestation during the settlor's lifetime, whether or not alive at the time the trust is created. The trust terminates upon the death of the last surviving animal.
(a) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal or animals alive or in gestation during the settlor's lifetime, whether or not alive at the time the trust is created. The trust terminates upon the death of the last surviving animal.
(b) 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 concerned for the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.
(c) 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.
HISTORY: 2005 Act No. 66, § 1; 2013 Act No. 100, § 2, eff January 1, 2014.
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 62-7-409 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.
South Carolina Trust Code Section 62-7-408 differs in several minor ways from the uniform version. Two provisions found in the UTC Comment have been added to the body of Section 62-7-408(a): (1) that the trust can benefit animals alive during the settlor's lifetime, regardless of whether they are alive at the time the trust is created, and (2) that animals in gestation at the settlor's death can be included in the trust. Surplus language in the UTC has also been omitted from the SCTC version.
Subsection (b) addresses enforcement. SCTC Section 62-7-408(b) modifies the UTC version, attempting to clarify that a person need be concerned only for an animal's welfare to petition the court. That person does not have to have a legally cognizable interest in the animal. 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 62-7-408 and 62-7-409 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 62-7-110(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
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 62-7-105(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 62-7-414. 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 62-7-414(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.
A trust created under this section would not be recognized under former South Carolina law. Thus, this section creates a new concept for South Carolina.