When you think about making provisions for your estate after your death, what will often come to your mind is who should be your executor, trustee, whether there are any money gifts or specific gifts you want to make to family and friends and for those of you with minor children, the appointment of guardians.
Pets (and we mean the cute, furry type) can often be overlooked. However, you will be pleased to know that for those of you who are parents to fur babies or any other animals, you can make provisions for them in your Will.
You should think about who you would want to look after your pets on your death.
You may decide you want your best friend Megan to look after your 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 rabbits and your guinea pig on your death. However, you may not have spoken to Megan about your intentions and on your death and Megan may decide the responsibility is too much. It is therefore best to speak to your chosen person during your lifetime to ask if they would be willing to take on the role rather than assuming they will accept this responsibility. Remember someone liking dogs is not the same as wanting to have dogs in their own home.
A good idea is also to appoint a substitute beneficiary if the original beneficiary predeceases you or decides at the time that they are no longer able to look after your pets due to illness or just a change of their own circumstances.
The second point to consider is whether you want to make any financial provisions in your Will to care for your pets. Pets can be expensive and costs can include things such as insurance, vet bills and the cost of feeding (especially where your pet is on a particular diet). This is something to consider when deciding who should inherit your pets and you may therefore choose to make a money gift to the beneficiary to assist them with the financial expenses in the care of your pets. We would advise any money gift is made conditional on the basis that the beneficiary chooses to take care of your pets.
An alternative to making a money gift to your chosen beneficiary is to create an animal purpose trust which is a particular type of trust created for the upkeep of specific animals. For more information on this type of trust, please see our article here.
As a pet owner, you may have certain wishes on how you would like your pets to be cared for. This can be set out in a letter of wishes but please keep in mind that a letter of wishes is not legally binding.
If there is no one suitable to take on the care of your pets, you should consider leaving your pets to the care of a charity instead. The RSPCA run a well-known ‘home for life’ scheme that a person may register their pets with during lifetime. The executors would notify the RSPCA of your death and the charity will aim to suitably rehome the pet. This gives you the peace of mind that your pets will be cared for after your death.
To make or update an existing Will, speak to a member of The Society of Will Writers today. You can either use our Find a member search or call the office on 01522 687888 and we can help you find someone in your local area.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
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