Who will look after my pets?
Our pets are often are as much a part of the family as our children, brothers and sisters. Have you considered what would happen to your beloved cat, dog, rabbit, pony or fur-baby if you were to die prematurely?
Putting a Will in place documents your wishes for your pets’ care and can give you peace of mind that your beloved animal will be well cared for.
5 Top Tips
1. Don’t leave a gift to your pet
As talented as we all believe our pet dog, cat or other animal to be, a cash gift to them is not valid because they would not be able to open their own bank account, and animals cannot own cash or give a legal receipt to your executors. However, you can gift your pet to the person you trust to take care of them, as the law considers a pet to be one of your personal possessions.
2. Leaving your pet to a family member or a friend
Most people would not mind looking after someone’s pet for a week or so while they are away on holiday, but not everyone would be willing to take on the responsibility of caring for an animal permanently. Be sure to discuss the matter with the friend or family member you have chosen and they agree to take on the responsibility (and the honour!).
3. Consider the costs involved in looking after your pet
This is especially important if your pet if your pet has medical needs, special food requirement or could live for many more years. A common way to provide for your pet is to leave a cash sum to the person who agrees to be their new owner and carer. You might decide to make the cash gift conditional – the person taking on the responsibility of looking after the pet only receives the gift if they step in. This helps avoid a situation of your chosen person not being able to take on the responsibility simply due to lack of funds. Don’t forget to name a substitute carer if your first choice cannot make the commitment for any reason (Plan B).
4. Have a Plan C
If you cannot decide who should step in or you do not know a willing and able carer, many animal charities run free rehoming schemes that would provide care for your pet when you are gone. You may like to consider the RSPCA’s Home for Life scheme, or the Cat’s Protection League rehoming service. You could leave details for your executors with your important papers or better still in your Once I’ve Gone account.
5. Don’t forget future pets
Make sure to include any future pets you may have, even if the recent addition to your fur-family has chewed your best slippers and you’ve sworn ‘never again’! Pets bring such joy and those misdemeanours are soon forgotten, so it’s best to leave a gift of ‘any pets owned by me at the date of my death’, rather than naming those you have when you make your Will.
To find out more about making a Will to include care for your pets, please use our contact form to get in touch.
Our blog author, Donna Hames, is an affiliate of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, a full member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters and chose to specialise in estate planning following her LLB Hons law degree. With a former career in financial services, compliance and audit, Donna is Carisma Wills’ principal, a paralegal and director; she is well-known in the local area as a swim coach and charity volunteer.