What Are Pet Trusts? – Part I

by KitKat Hook, Feline Extraordinaire
(reprinted from January 2013)

September 6, 2013

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Pet trusts are a trust specifically designed to care for a pet in the event that his/her owner becomes incapacitated or dies. They are an excellent idea! The trustee who manages the funds can authorize the funds of the trust before the owner’s death, like when someone is ill, or after death. It depends how the trust is set up. In some states, the trust continues for the length of the animal’s life or for 21 years, whichever comes first. In other states, it continues for as long as the animal lives, which is really the best system, in my humble opinion. In that case, pets such as horses and parrots, which can live for a very long time, are provided for. Unfortunately, there are some states in which pet trusts are not valid at all, and some in which enforcement is discretionary.  For a list of all the states and their pet trust status, go to the website at www.aspca.org and search for the Pet Trust State Law Chart.
So my best advice is to set up a pet trust with an attorney who specializes in estate planning, like my dad, Andy Hook of the Hook Law Center.  He or one of the other fine attorneys there can help you design a pet trust. If you’re not a Virginia resident, the Hook Law Center can refer to you to an estate/elder law attorney in the state where the pet resides. Before going to the attorney, you will need to think about who you would like to serve as the trustee of the trust and the pet’s future caregiver. You will also need to designate a successor trustee and a successor caregiver, in the event the first people you entrust with your pet’s future, are unable to serve in that capacity.  I hope this information is helpful! It may be something you’ve never thought about before. (Information taken from Kim Bressant-Kibwe, Esq., www.aspca.org,, Dec. 19, 2012 under category of Pet Trust Primer)
SAVE THE DATE!  Hook Law Center Attorneys Andrew Hook and Jessica Hayes are presenting a seminar on Providing for Pets in Estate Plans at the Care-A-Lot Pet Supply at 5457 Indian River Road, Virginia Beach, VA  on Thursday, September 19th at 6:30 p.m.  Click Here to R.S.V.P. !
ask kitkat logoCat Detective Help
Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, did a cat really help to solve a crime?
Kit Kat: Yes, it appears that way. Now this didn’t happen in the way you might think. The cat didn’t direct the investigation or anything like that. However, what did happen was that cat hair from a cat named Tinker was found on a corpse in Great Britain. Tinker was the cat of the now-convicted murderer. Great Britain maintains a database of the DNA of 152 cats. Tinker’s cat hair was sent to California to be analyzed, and it matched those found at the crime scene. But to counter the argument that there might be other cats with similar DNA, British scientists compared the DNA of all 152 cats to the cat DNA found at the scene. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother cat to her kittens. Only 2 other cats besides Tinker’s had a match. With that strong evidence, the detectives also had other incriminating evidence–the murderer’s DNA was found in blood at the victim’s home. Together, the 2 pieces of information led to a conviction of manslaughter.
So this may only be the beginning of feline assistance in solving crimes. Robert Grahn of the University of California at Davis, a researcher involved in the case, said that cats can provide excellent help in such cases. Their hair is shed frequently, and with their continuous grooming, their DNA is left on the strands. Another cat’s fur helped to solve a murder in Canada in 1994.
I am happy to report that Tinker has a new home, and he appears to be doing well. His previous owner was sent to life in prison. Justice has a way of winning in the end! Thank goodness for modern science! (http://www.nbcnews.com/science/elementary-my-dear-fluffy-cat-dna-solves-another-homicide) (August 15, 2013)
Upcoming Events

  • Hook Law Center will be presenting at an Advanced Elder Law Seminar sponsored by Virginia Continuing Legal Education at The Place at Innsbrook, 4100 Cox Rd., Glen Allen, VA on September 11, 2013.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a seminar on Providing for Pets in Estate Plans at Care-A-Lot Pet Supply, 5457 Indian River Road, Virginia Beach, VA on September 19, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.  This event, hosted by the Norfolk SPCA and Care-A-Lot Pet Supply, is free and open to the public.
  • Hook Law Center proudly presents “Shred With A Purpose” at our Virginia Beach office location, 295 Bendix Road, Suite 170, Virginia Beach, VA  23452 on September 21, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.  This event is free and open to the public.  Donations will be accepted during this event for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  More information on this event follows.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a seminar on Guardianships, AMDs and Long-Term Care Planning at Compassionate Care Hospice, 920 Ventures Way, Suite 6, Chesapeake, Virginia on October 2, 2013 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Hook Law Center is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s  on October 13, 2013 to raise funds and awareness. We  know Team Hook Law Center can make a difference with your support! It’s easy to give online by clicking here.  If you would like to join Team  Hook Law Center, raise funds and walk with us, please email Jennifer Woods-Pagano, CECC, our team captain, at pagano@hooklawcenter.com for more information.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting on Estate and Long-Term Care Planning at the Medicare Health Fair at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th Street, Virginia Beach, VA on November 16,  2013.  This event, hosted by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, is free and open to the public.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a webinar on the Affordable Care Act and Elder Law and Special Needs Planning on December 4, 2013. This webinar will be hosted by Interactive Legal.
  • Hook Law Center will be presenting a live webinar on POAs, AMDs and the Ethics of It All in Charlottesville, VA on April 10, 2014. This webinar will be hosted by Virginia Continuing Legal Education.

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This report is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this report accurate, Hook Law Center assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information in this report.