Including pets in your Will
As a nation of animal lovers, many of us will have wondered what happens to our pets after we die. If it’s a family pet, you may assume that Rover will automatically be cared for by your partner or children.
However, this may not always be the case, so it’s important that provision for Rover’s care is carefully considered. With that in mind, you may want to think about including your pet in your Will.
Should I include my pet in my Will?
They may be our loyal companions, however, in the eyes of the law, pets are actually considered to be a personal chattel (possession), akin to a chair or a china teapot.
You may joke about leaving your house to your pet when you die so they can live like royalty, but because a pet is your property, it’s not possible to leave items of value to them in your Will.
You can, however, specify what you want to happen to your pet in the event that you pass away before it. So, in short, yes, you can make provisions for your pet in your Will.
What provisions for my pet should I include in my Will?
We’ll start with the most obvious: who should care for your pet in the event of your death. As with any other ‘asset’, it’s important to consider who you trust most to take on the responsibility of caring for your loyal companion.
A friend or family member
As close as you may be to your loved ones, they may not be as much of an animal lover as you. Or, they simply may not have the time to care for another living being. As with any other ‘gift’, there is always the risk that your chosen beneficiary could decline your pet.
It’s therefore advised to check with the person/people you have in mind that they are willing to take on your pet before putting it in writing.
Don’t forget, pets cost money. Aside from food, there’s pet insurance, vet bills and the cost of care if the new owner wants to go on holiday. It therefore may be worth leaving a financial provision to your chosen beneficiary so that you rest easy in the knowledge that your precious Persian will be cared for in the same way that you always did.
A dedicated animal charity
If you’re unable to choose a loved one to take on ownership, or you simply don’t have that option, you can select a charity to take on your pet and rehome it. A popular choice is the RSPCA, which offers a Home for Life service for those wanting to include it in their Will. Another well-known charity is The Cinnamon Trust, which, as well as offering respite for elderly owners, provides long-term care for pets whose owners have died. You can include your preference to use the Trust in your Will, and they also offer emergency cards which you can carry with you if you are injured there’s a pet at home who needs care.
Let your executors decide
You can always let your executors decide what happens to your pets when you die. Although at a glance this seems uncaring, it actually provides flexibility in the provision of care for your pet. Situations change, and what might feel right for your pet now, may not be right further down the line.
What happens to my pet if I don’t include it in my Will?
If your Will does not provide for your pet, or you don’t have a Will, all sorts of problems can arise. Your pet will become simply another asset in your estate and, with no provision for care, could wind up without a home. Alternatively, a family dispute could arise because more than one person wants to take care of old Rusty.
It’s also important to remember to update your Will if a pet dies and you get another one, or simply if you acquire another furry friend. If Tom the cat dies and you get a new one to keep you company, but have only made provisions for Tom in your Will, the new cat won’t be provided for. You should therefore think about expressing that any provisions made are for all pets (or ‘replacements’ for want of a better word).
Write or update your Will today
To discuss writing or amending your Will to include your pet/s, call our dedicated Will writing solicitors on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can get started online.