Eminent legal scholars such as Harvard Law School professors Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe and others support animal rights. Activist groups have evolved from loose organizations of like-minded advocates to national and international associations with considerable clout. This concept is gaining acceptance in this country and throughout the world. In fact, in 2008, Spain granted legal rights to great apes.
Whatever we feel about the work of animal activists, it can’t be denied that we care about animals. Approximately 65 million households in the United States include cats and dogs. An additional 11 to 12 million households include small pets like ferrets, rabbits, fish, hamsters and snakes. And, significantly, most pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family.
So it’s not surprising that in April of 2000, Michigan enacted a new probate code, the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC), which makes Michigan one of 40 states that has some sort of statutory provisions for “pet trusts” for domestic or pet animals.
Nancy Little, an attorney with Foster Zack Little Pasteur & Manning, PC, says, “My area of practice focuses on trusts and estates which would include estate planning and administering trusts and probate estates after a person has died.
“The EPIC legislation permits an individual to leave a trust for a domestic animal. Prior to that, pet animals were considered property, and an individual couldn’t leave a gift to property. But since this legislation, a person can establish a trust to provide for the care of an animal.”
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Pet Trusts Revealed