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In re Searight

    Brief Fact Summary. In his will, George P. Searight left his dog Trixie to Florence Hand of Wooster, Ohio. Searight directed his executor to place $1,000 in a savings and loan association for Hand to use 75 cents per day for the care of Trixie. The court determines the validity of the gift of the dog and the effect of the rule against perpetuities on the gift.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A valid honorary trust may exist where the donor gives another a dog for the purpose of caring for the dog. A bequest does not violate the rule against perpetuities where the donor sets a portion of a limited amount of money to be used every day that amounts to a time that does not exceed the limit under the rule.

    Facts. Searight executed a will and gave his dog Trixie to Hand. He also gave Hand $1,000 for the purpose of taking care of the dog. She was instructed to use 75 cents of the $1,000 per day for the dog. The value of Trixie was $5.00. Hand accepted Trixie and the $1,000 to care for her.

    Issue.
    Whether a gift of a dog is the proper subject of an honorary trust

    Whether the testamentary bequest of the dog for the purpose of providing care every day at 75 cents per day until $1,000 is exhausted, violates the rule against perpetuities

    Held.
    A gift of a dog is a proper honorary trust because the donor expressed a desire that the beneficiary care for the dog and the beneficiary is willing to carry out the testator’s wishes.

    The testamentary bequest does not violate the rule against perpetuities because the testator granted the beneficiary $1000 to be used at a rate of 75 cents per day as long as the dog would live. Therefore, the power would not last longer than 57 and half days which are far below the maximum amount of time granted under the rule against perpetuities.


    Discussion. Gifts to dogs are valid if (1) the testator gives the dog for the purpose of providing care for the dog, and (2) the beneficiary accepts the gift.


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