June 7, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
ATLANTA - Pets can now be listed as beneficiaries of trusts, thanks in part to a Georgia State University professor who helped craft the new law.
College of Law professor Mary Radford spent much of the past decade helping to dissect the state's trust code. The biggest changes give people overseeing trusts automatic and broader powers to deal with property left by the departed or incapacitated. Another allows people to create trusts for their pets.
"The beneficiaries of trusts are often children or incapacitated adults," said Radford. "Now people can set up trusts for their beloved four legged friends, knowing they will be well cared for when the pet owner dies or is otherwise unable to provide that care."
Many of the changes are "clarifications and technical changes," Radford added. "Georgia now has one of the most sophisticated and thorough set of trust laws in the United States."
As reporter for the Georgia Trust Code Revision Committee of the State Bar of Georgia - which was charged with revising the code - Radford began her work in July, 2003. In the years that followed, the committee examined each section of the Georgia Trust Act, which had been enacted in 1991 with the help of College of Law professor Anne Emanuel.
The new bill introducing a revised Georgia Trust Code was first introduced last year. After some minor legislative amendments and other tweaks to the bill, it passed on the last day of the state legislative session in late April. Last week, it was signed into law.