Wills and EstatesWhat Happens To My Pets If I Die?

October 30, 2018

Can I make a Provision for Pets in My Will?

For most of us, dogs, cats and other pets are really part of the family, however how many of us have thought about what might happen if our pets outlive us?

Animals do not have the legal capacity to own property, shares, bonds or sports cars, however you can ensure that your pet is cared and looked after when you pass by making all the necessary arrangements for their welfare.

You can take the approach of discussing your wishes with family or friends. Alternatively, you can ask you solicitor to draft a professional will that is valid and ensures that your wishes are carried out and your beloved pet is taken care of.

We have listed some options that you may consider when providing for your pet in your will:

    1. Nominate a family member or friend that you would like to look after your pets. Obviously before having your will prepared, discuss the matter with the individual you wish to trust your pets with as to whether they would be happy to do so.
    1. If this is option is not possible, consider alternatives such as local pet shelters or animal charities. Your will can provide a list in order of preference up to three (so there are alternatives)
  1. Establish a special fund or a trust by will for the care and maintenance of pets. In ascertaining how much to leave in this fund or trust, consider:
    1. Your pet’s expected lifespan;
    2. The cost of the upkeep of your pet for the rest of their life;
    3. Any special requirements you require;
    4. Potential medical costs or insurances for medical cover;
    5. Any specific burial arrangements you may want when the pet passes.

Use of a Testamentary Trust

The most secure way of ensuring your gift of money is used to provide for the continuing needs of your pet is to establish a trust under your will for the care and maintenance of your pet.

The trust must comply with certain legal rules, however there are a few practical matters you should think about if you wish to set up a trust in your Will.

  1. You should ensure you set aside sufficient money in the trust to cover for your pet’s lifetime needs including possible medical conditions and associated costs;
  2. You need to ensure you name someone reliable who will commit to caring for your pet and that you obtain the necessary consent from this person;
  3. Nominate a substitute carer in case the first carer cannot or will not take on the role or the pet outlives them; and
  4. Provide instructions about what happens to any unspent funds once your pet passes away;

What Happens If I Lose Capacity to Care for My Pet?

It is also vital to consider the impact on your pet if you were to lose capacity to care for them. You may wish to leave your Lawyer or a family member appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney with instructions as to how to care for your pet in the event you no longer have the capacity to do so

Contact the team at A.L.F. Lawyers and make an appointment to discuss your current will and establish if there is any need for you to reflect any changes.

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