Today bequests including trusts for the performance of religious services or for the care of gravesites are universally upheld, either under common law or specific authorizing statutes. In the few jurisdictions where such trusts are not regarded as charitable trusts, they are upheld as honorary trusts. When we turn to the testamentary dedication of property for the care of specific animals, we find no such general acceptance. Gifts for the care of specific animals, usually pets of the deceased testatrix, have been upheld only in England, Ohio and Kentucky, despite the fact that the scholarly literature in general favors the validity of such bequests.' Two rules of law have lead the American courts generally to hold such bequests invalid. They are the requirement that a trust have a human beneficiary and the rule against perpetuities. Of the two, the lack of a human beneficiary capable of enforcing the bequest is most significant. Even cases decided on the basis of the rule against perpetuities often declare the rule violated because the rule is defined in terms of human lives.2 It should be noted that the cases perhaps most directly in point are the cases involving bequests to slaves prior to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. However, these cases have not been cited by the courts in discussing the validity of bequests for the care of specific animals.' Nor are the cases involving bequests for religious services or the erection or maintenance of grave monuments frequently cited in the American cases involving the validity of bequests for the care of specific animals.
James T. Brennan,
Bequests for the Care of Specific Animals,
Duq. L. Rev.
Available at: https://dsc.duq.edu/dlr/vol6/iss1/3