Governor vetoes bill to update probate code to protect pets

On September 19, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1520, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto and passed 72-0 in the California State Assembly. This bill gained notoriety for being the first “crowd-sourced” bill, written by Gatto’s constituents on a wiki. What was the topic of the bill? Updating the probate code to help protect our pets.

Currently, California Probate Code § 15212 allows for the creation of a trust to care for your pets. If you are a pet lover, like I am, ensuring the welfare of your pets after you are gone is critical. What AB 1520 would have done, essentially, is allow the court to appoint a “guardian ad litem” for any pet, for whom a trust has been established, if the court determined that the pet was not adequately represented.

Here is the text describing the bill, as provided by the Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

AB 1520, Gatto. Guardians ad litem: animals.

Existing law establishes requirements for the establishment and termination of a trust for the care of an animal.

Existing law authorizes a court to appoint a guardian ad litem at any stage of a proceeding under the Probate Code to represent the interest of specified persons, if the court determines that representation of the interest otherwise would be inadequate.

This bill would authorize a court 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 inadequate.

I would be devastated at the thought of my dogs, Macaroni and Lucy, not getting the care they need should anything happen to me. I’m sure you feel the same about your furry loved ones!

The good news is that AB 1520 would only have expanded the protections offered by the probate code. To ensure that your beloved pets are cared for as you wish, you should designate a guardian for them in a will or set up a trust to provide for their care.

Contact Elizabeth A. Tresp, Attorney at Law. She is a pet lover with the skills and experience in Estate Planning, Probate, and Tax law to ensure that all of your loved ones, including the furriest among them, are well cared for.