How Can I Provide For My Pets In My Will?

HOW CAN I PROVIDE FOR MY PETS IN MY WILL?

We are a Nation of animal lovers, and February 20th is national “Love Your Pet Day”. Have you ever considered what would happen to your beloved pet if you were to suddenly die? Who would look after them and how would that person pay for their care, feed and vets bills etc? Amye Aris, our Wills, Trusts and Probate specialist discusses this topic in more detail.

All too often it is simply assumed that a pet will be taken in by family or friends in the event of death, however tens of thousands of pets are at risk of becoming homeless after the death of an owner. Careful planning now could avoid many problems later, and these are 5 things you should consider when making your Will to best protect your pet in the future:

  1. Who would look after my pet?

It is a good idea to think about who in your family you would trust to willingly leave your pet with, should you pass away. You may decide to leave that person your pet as an outright gift, which is possible to do in England and Wales because pets are deemed to be ‘personal chattels’. Talk to that person and let them know of your plans of gifting them a pet in your Will. They may not like the idea of such a responsibility, and it is better to find out now, so that you can plan a contingency.

  1. What happens if that person cannot look after them?

You could also choose a substitute beneficiary in the event that your first choice is unwilling or unable to re-home your pet when the time comes. This is important if your first choice had already died or couldn’t take on the responsibility of a pet due to their own poor health or a change in circumstances beyond their control.

  1. How will they afford to keep my pet?

Some people decide to leave cash gifts outright to their chosen beneficiary to cover the cost of feeding and caring for your pet.  The day-to-day maintenance as well as vet bills and insurance cover can be costly. However, there is no guarantee that the person will not take the cash as well as the pet and spend the money on anything other than the pet’s wellbeing, so careful wording in your Will needs to be considered. You should also consider future pets and the Will should be worded in such a way to include all pets.

  1. What happens if no one is willing or able to look after my pet if I am no longer around?

If no one is able or willing to take your pet, animal charities such as the RSPCA or Dogs Trust will take in unwanted pets of owners who have passed away. Many animal charities have schemes that you can sign up to such as the RSPCA’s ‘Home for Life’ scheme, which is like an agreement to take on a pet in the event of the owner’s death and try and find a loving new home for them.

  1. Can I set up a trust in my Will to benefit my pet directly?

Although you can’t leave any money directly or in trust for your pet you can set up a Discretionary Trust in your Will and leave a detailed Letter of Wishes asking your Executors to use some of the monies for the benefit of your pet for the remainder of their life, giving details about its routine, daily needs, the veterinary surgery you are registered with and so on.

To find out more on how best to protect your pet in your Will speak to our specialists today on 01908 542 677 or email amyearis@newleafsolicitors.co.uk