Law Office of Richard M. Russell
197 Palmer Avenue
Falmouth, Massachusetts 02540

This site does not provide legal advice. Please visit the Law Office of Richard M. Russell for information specific to your circumstances.

Providing for the Care of Your Pets

Massachusetts law (MGL ch. 203E, sec. 408) permits one to leave some or all of his or her property to his or her pets (really, to any animal(s)). The “leaving” is accomplished by way of a written trust. (See other pages of this website for a discussion of trusts.) The pet(s) must be living at the time of the property owner’s death, and the trust terminates upon the death of the last pet to die. The trust property can only be used to benefit the pets identified in the trust (and for expenses incurred in carrying out the trust).

The trust should designate a person to care for the pets: this person is referred to as the “trustee.” A court will appoint a trustee if the trust fails to identify a person able and willing to serve as trustee (for instance, if the named trustee dies). The law includes provisions to ensure that the trustee carries out the terms of the trust.

The law provides that “excess” finds may be returned to the owner (if living) or paid to the deceased owner’s beneficiaries or heirs. Excess funds may be funds clearly unnecessary for care of the pets identified in the trust or what remains upon termination of the trust.

image courtesy: Beagle photo created by freepik -