Pets in Estate Planning

From pussycats fluffy, to horses in fields

From family pooches to bright parakeets

We all have our wonderful, long living pets

Who’ll need help if you’re gone, with food, shelter and vets

So, make sure you are thoughtful of what will happen to them

Should anything happen to you in the end

Consider a gift, a consideration of care

For those loveable animals when you cannot be there.

The poem was designed to make you smile but it’s subject is more serious, and something that you should consider if you have any family pets that could outlive you. These days, pets are as much a part of the family as any person so it’s important that they be considered in your estate planning.

The elements you should consider are:

  • Who you would like to look after your pets
  • Whether you need to make financial provision for their upkeep (e.g. food or vet’s bills)
  • The specific needs of the animal e.g. some types of parrot have a life expectancy of 60 years so an elderly beneficiary may not be best

There are a couple of ways you can chose to look after a pet even after you have gone. One way is to leave money in your Will for the specific purpose of looking after them; another is to create a special type of trust (a Trust of Imperfect Obligation) so called because the object of the trust cannot influence it. On top of these options it is advisable that you write a letter of wishes for the beneficiary to outline what you would like happen and how your pet should be cared for.

Of course, if there is no one suitable you can also consider leaving your pet to the care of a suitable charity which will give you the peace of mind that everything will be done to rehome your beloved pet should anything happen to you. Charities that do this include the RSPCA Home for Life Scheme, the Dogs Trust Canine Care Card and Cats Protection Cat Guardians Service.

If you want to talk more about including pets in your estate planning please email me on amanda@alhlegal-willwriters.co.uk or call me on 0115 878 0417