Friday, November 30, 2007

Lawyer's Unique Animal Trust Practice reports on a New Jersey lawyer dedicated to a unique form of animal advocacy:

When trusts and estates lawyer Elenora Benz meets with clients who want her to draw up a will, she asks not only about assets and heirs but also about pets and how they are to be provided for.

A New Jersey law enacted in 2001 lets pet owners set up lifetime or testamentary trusts for care of domestic animals. It even allows a court to appoint a trustee if needed and to make orders and determinations to carry out the intent of the creator and the purpose of the act.

Benz, who drafted the statute, has made use of it to help clients ensure their companion animals will be cared for and has even used it to provide for her own cats, dogs and Icelandic horses.

Pet-trust practice "is not going to make a fortune," says the Newton, N.J., solo, but it is a marketing tool, with some clients seeking her out specifically for that reason.

It's just one way in which a growing cadre of lawyers is melding a love of animals with legal practice as animal-related issues become incorporated in numerous legal areas, such as personal injury, landlord-tenant and family law.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto

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