BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 1520
          Author:   Gatto (D)
          Amended:  6/16/14 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  5-2, 6/10/14
          AYES:  Jackson, Corbett, Lara, Leno, Monning
          NOES:  Anderson, Vidak

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  72-0, 5/1/14 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Guardians ad litem:  animals

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This bill authorizes a court to appoint a guardian ad  
          litem to represent the interests of an animal, who is the  
          subject of a pet trust, if the court determines that  
          representation of the animal's interest otherwise would be  
          inadequate.  This bill also authorizes the court to award  
          payment of the reasonable expenses of the guardian ad litem  
          either out of the trust or another source.

           ANALYSIS :    Existing law:

          1.Authorizes the court, on its own motion or on request of a  
            personal representative, guardian, conservator, trustee, or  
            other interested person, to appoint a guardian ad litem at any  
            stage of a proceeding to represent the interest of any of the  
            following persons, if the court determines that representation  
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            of the interest otherwise would be inadequate:

                 A minor;
                 An incapacitated person;
                 An unborn person;
                 An unascertained person;
                 A person whose identity or address is unknown; and
                 A designated class of persons who are not ascertained or  
               are not in being. 

          1.Provides for the creation of a trust for the care of an animal  
            as follows:

                 A trust for the care of a designated domestic or pet  
               animal is valid and terminates when no living animal is  
               covered by the trust;

                 The governing instrument shall be liberally construed in  
               order to bring the transfer within the normal rules for  
               trusts, to presume against the honorary nature of the  
               disposition, and to carry out the general intent of the  
               trustor;

                 Extrinsic evidence is admissible in determining the  
               intent of the trustor;

                 The trust principal or income shall not be converted to  
               the trustee's use or for any purpose other than for the  
               benefit of the covered animal;

                 Upon termination of the trust, the trustee shall  
               transfer the unexpended trust property, as specified;

                 The intended purpose of the trust principal or income  
               may be enforced by a person designated by the trust or, if  
               none is designated, by a person appointed by the court upon  
               application;

                 Any person interested in the welfare of the animal or  
               any nonprofit charitable organization that has as its  
               principal activity the care of animals may petition the  
               court regarding the trust;

                 If the trust instrument does not name a trustee or no  

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               trustee or successor trustee is willing or able to serve,  
               the court is required to appoint a trustee to carry out the  
               intended use of the trust property;

                 A court may order the transfer of the trust property to  
               a court-appointed trustee, if it is required to ensure that  
               the intended use is carried out and if a successor trustee  
               is not designated in the trust instrument or if no  
               designated successor trustee agrees to serve or is able to  
               serve;

                 A court may make all other orders necessary to carry out  
               the trustor's intent;

                 Trust accountings must be provided to the beneficiaries  
               who would be entitled to distribution if the animal were  
               then deceased and to any nonprofit charitable corporation  
               that has as its principal activity the care of animals and  
               that has requested these accountings in writing.  However,  
               if the value of the assets in the trust does not exceed  
               $40,000, no filing, report, registration, periodic  
               accounting, separate maintenance of funds, appointment, or  
               fee is required by reason of the existence of the fiduciary  
               relationship of the trustee, unless ordered by the court or  
               required by the trust instrument;

                 Any beneficiary, any person designated by the trust  
               instrument or the court to enforce the trust, or any  
               nonprofit charitable corporation that has as its principal  
               activity the care of animals may, upon reasonable request,  
               inspect the animal, the premises where the animal is  
               maintained, or the books and records of the trust; and

                 "Animal" is defined to mean a domestic or pet animal for  
               the benefit of which a trust has been established. 

          This bill:
           
           1.Authorizes the court, on its own motion or on request of a  
            trustee or other person interested in the welfare of the  
            animal or an animal care nonprofit organization, to appoint a  
            guardian ad litem to represent the interest of an animal for  
            which a trust has been established, if the court determines  
            that representation of the interest otherwise would be  

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            inadequate.

          2.Authorizes the court, on its own motion or on the request of  
            the trustee or any person or organization authorized to  
            petition the court regarding the trust, to appoint a guardian  
            ad litem to represent the interest of the animal if the court  
            determines that representation otherwise would be inadequate. 

          3.Prohibits a public guardian from being appointed as a guardian  
            ad litem in a pet trust. 

          4.Provides that the reasonable expenses of the guardian ad  
            litem, including compensation and attorney's fees, shall be  
            determined by the court and paid as the court orders, either  
            out of the trust or from another source as the court orders.

           Background
           
          According to the 2013-2014 American Pet Products Association's  
          National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of United States households own  
          a pet, which equates to approximately 82.5 million homes.   
          Increasingly, pet owners are seeking to ensure that their pets  
          are cared for after the owner's death or disability.  Thus,  
          informal arrangements with family or friends have been made for  
          the care of such animals.  Some have ventured to include pets in  
          their wills, while others have created "pet trusts" that set  
          aside money for the care of the pets in the event of the owner's  
          death or disability. 

          For example, famed real estate and hotel mogul Leona Helmsley  
          left a trust of $12 million for the care of her pet dog,  
          Trouble.  Another lesser known pet owner from Maryland willed  
          some $400,000 plus a house to the three stray dogs that he  
          adopted.  In those circumstances, the trustee or executor is  
          expected to pay a caretaker to ensure that the pets are housed,  
          fed, and maintained as provided in the trust or will.

          Under existing law, any person interested in the welfare of a  
          pet, or any nonprofit charitable organization principally  
          involved in the care of animals, may petition the court  
          regarding the pet trust or the trustee's powers or  
          administration of the trust.  

           Prior Legislation

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           SB 685 (Yee, Chapter 168, Statutes of 2008) repealed prior law  
          on trusts for domesticated or pet animals and enacted more  
          detailed provisions for the creation and enforcement of pet  
          trusts.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No   Local:  
           No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  7/2/14)

          The Humane Society of the United States
          State Humane Association of California

           OPPOSITION :    (Verified  7/2/14)

          The Animal Council

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author writes, "Current law does  
          not allow for the appointment of a person to represent the best  
          interest of an animal that is the subject of a pet trust.  This  
          bill would allow for the appointment of such a person [if] the  
          court sees fit."

          The Humane Society of the United States, in support, asserts  
          that "[p]ets are routinely considered part of [a] person's  
          family.  The Humane Society of the United States encourages  
          responsible pet owners to ensure that their beloved pet will  
          continue to receive the care they provided if something  
          unexpected were to happen.  AB 1520 provides a valuable and  
          needed safety net for pets and other animals if that message is  
          not heard or, despite an individual's best intentions, the plans  
          fall short."

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    The Animal Council (TAC) argues  
          that, "there is no proper legal basis for appointment of  
          guardians ad litem for animals within the California Probate  
          Code?.  Since Section 15212 already provides procedures for  
          oversight of the trust and the animal, it is difficult to  
          understand the need for establishing unprecedented legal rights  
          for any class of animals within the Probate Code."  TAC further  
          argues that the author's assertion that "the status of animals  
          is inherently more than property as evidenced by animals being  
          able to be beneficiaries of trusts pursuant to legislation" is  

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          misleading and incorrect in a legal context because animals were  
          not intended by the Legislature when enacting the pet trust  
          statute to make animals beneficiaries of a pet trust.  On this  
          point, TAC argues "[t]here is a legal difference between being a  
          'beneficiary' in a legal sense and that of animals as 'property'  
          for which a trust is established for its care and maintenance.   
          Inanimate property can also be maintained by a trustor's  
          designation and assets but does not become a 'beneficiary'  
          itself.  Under existing law animals are property within a  
          framework that allows their legal owners or other provided by  
          statute to protect their interests within the judicial system.   
          Animals for which a trust has been established may be  
          'beneficiaries' in vernacular usage, but the statutory  
          enforceability of the trust does not confer the legal status of  
          'beneficiary;' on the animals.  To enact law that suggests this  
          invites confusion, expense and unnecessarily time consuming use  
          of the judicial system."  

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  72-0, 5/1/14
          AYES: Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Bigelow, Bloom,  
            Bocanegra, Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Buchanan, Ian Calderon,  
            Campos, Chau, Chávez, Chesbro, Conway, Cooley, Dababneh,  
            Dahle, Daly, Dickinson, Eggman, Fong, Fox, Beth Gaines,  
            Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon, Gorell, Gray, Grove,  
            Hagman, Harkey, Roger Hernández, Holden, Jones, Jones-Sawyer,  
            Levine, Linder, Logue, Lowenthal, Maienschein, Medina,  
            Melendez, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Nestande, Olsen, Pan,  
            Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Rendon,  
            Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Wagner,  
            Waldron, Weber, Wieckowski, Wilk, Williams, Yamada, John A.  
            Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED: Brown, Donnelly, Frazier, Hall, Mansoor,  
            Patterson, Salas, Vacancy


          AL:nl  7/2/14   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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