Preventing Court Action to Reduce the Funds in Your Massachusetts Pet Trust

Based on my experience, it is my belief that a lawyer for an heir or charity will think twice about mounting a challenge to a trust if it can be quickly shown that the amount funding the Massachusetts Pet Trust was the result of careful budgeting.  Thus, establishing a Life Care Plan through the pet’s Veterinarian would be extremely helpful to defend the trust.

The lawyer potentially challenging the trust will be even more reluctant to proceed if the lawyer’s client can receive no current benefit from the challenge (especially if it means that lawyer would have to wait an undeterminable amount of time to receive payment for services).

The new Massachusetts Pet Trust law provides upon trust termination, which presumably includes trust reduction, that the assets get reallocated “as directed in the trust instrument,” so it can be helpful in preventing challenges to include a trust clause that prevents acceleration of anybody else’s interest if the funding of the pet trust is found excessive. 

For example, such a non-acceleration clause could state that the funding of the pet trust may appear excessive to an outsider, but that it was your intention to use the trust as a method to provide a delayed distribution to the remainder person or remainder charity, and that the extra funds in the trust are meant to allow the Trustee to invest for higher total returns rather than for mere income. 

Posted by: Brian E. Barreira, Esq. / 18 Samoset Street, Plymouth, MA 02360 / 508-747-8282

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