I have officially opened for business today. I am a new attorney trying to go solo with an Animal Law practice in Charming Aiken, SC. I have an operating budget of zip. Nada. Zero. Can I use my legal super powers to bring truth and justice to the local animal owners? Perhaps. Perhaps not, but I have a stack of McDonalds gift certificates and enough sweet feed and Dog food for a month.
I spent the last 2 months studying the trust and probate codes of South Carolina and all the relevant case law on Honorary Trusts for Pets. Of course I also re-read the entire code of legal ethics, business practices and civil procedure. Do I feel prepared? No, I am over prepared. I am the only person I know who has read the code in the last year in its entirety. Nobody has a clue what I am referring to.
Of course since its only been in the code for less then 2 years there is no case law yet, but someone’s got to start the ball rolling. Any day now. . . . . .
I have decided to not offer any testamentary estate planning for Pets except trusts. There are too many ways that can go wrong and with the new laws that allow the state to enforce the trusts its really the only way to make sure your animal is cared for in the manner you desire. As it turns out, you cannot ask that your animals be put down in your will when you pass. Once this was random case law in dusty old books that nobody paid attention to, but now it can be googled in less then 5 minutes by anyone. It doesn’t take a top tier graduate to find all the info they need to invalidate your wishes. Your nosey neighbor can find this info in less time then it took to draft the will.
My trusts are going to cover all anticipated eventualities. With small animals this is easy. With horses its mind boggling. I am quite sure the trusts will end up 50 pages long with so many details worked out in advance, but better safe then sorry. Nobody wants to leave it to a non-animal lover to decide what the trustee meant. Do non-horsefolk even understand that Bahia is not alfalfa??
I am cutting overhead to zilch and trying to keep costs as low as possible so more people can afford my services. Can they get used to no secretary and no oriental rugs? I guess time will tell. The $100 an hour they are saving by talking to me directly should be an incentive, but people do not like change. I might fall into the “too good to be true so it isn’t” category! In addition to low rates I have decided to practice law in plain English and be completely honest. That should go over well. Is the public ready for the truth about the law? Sometimes its not fair and sometimes you lose even when you are right. Will people pay for honesty? I hope so.
Today’s question the horse owning public is “Would you want to provide for your horse to be ridden or shown after you are gone”? Surprisingly so far all the answers are Yes. I guess that makes it a reasonable expense?