Can I make provision for a pet in my will?
Abbie Kingdon 07-12-2021
Our pets are part of the family, and it's natural that we want to make sure that they are cared for after we die. It is possible that if you discover you don't have long to live, you also realise that your pet will outlive you. In other cases, more exotic pets like tortoises and parrots can have very long lifespans, and so it would not be unusual for them to live longer than their owners.
Whatever the reasons for your concerns arising, there are increasing numbers of people who worry about what will happen to their pets when they die.
There are steps which you can take when you are drafting your Will, to ensure your much loved pet is not left homeless and that your wishes for how they are looked after are carried out.
Can I leave money to my pet in my Will?
No, you cannot leave money directly to your pet in your Will. However, you can leave your pet as a gift in your Will to a specified individual, and then include a monetary bequest to them, to cover the costs of your pet’s vet bills and upkeep.
Can I leave my pets to someone else?
You can leave your pets to someone else in your Will. If you decide to create a gift under the terms of your Will, to give your pet to a particular person after you die, it is of course best to speak them first to ensure that they would be happy to take in and care for your pet. This will ensure that it does not come as a surprise and they are much more likely to accept the gift of your pet when you die. We see this most often with the longer-living types of pet, like tortoises.
It is also a good idea to consider choosing a substitute beneficiary in the event that your first choice is unwilling to act or is unable to. For example, the first person you have chosen to look after your pet may no longer be able to take on the responsibility of your looking after your pet perhaps due to illness or a change in circumstances.
Can I give my pet to a charity or animal shelter?
If you have no family or friends who would be willing take on your pet after you die, you can request that your pet is looked after by an animal charity. Lots of charities, such as the RSPCA accept pets that have been left homeless following their owner’s death, and attempt to rehome them. In these circumstances, the person making the Will would often choose to make a donation to the charity at the same time.
Drafting a Will to include your pets
If you would like to make a Will that protects your pets after you die, contact one of our sympathetic and experienced private client team, who would be happy to help you.