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What will happen to my pets when I die?

View profile for Louise Shortman
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In the UK, we are a nation of animal lovers. In an article in The Express, according to a survey taken in 2014, it was quoted “that more than 80% of pet owners give their furry friends the same love and attention they give their childrenCLICK HERE 

The findings also revealed that pet owners spend an average of £70.00 per month on their treasured friends, which is more than Brits spend on holidays and cosmetics combined.

It is therefore, not surprising, that, when making a Will, a lot of clients will want to make provision for their pets, ensuring that they will be cared for appropriately, after their days.

We have listed below some frequently asked questions concerning making provision for your pets in your Will.

However, it is important to consider some practical considerations, in the first instance.

We would advise that you are specific when identifying your pets. It may be appropriate to refer to your pet by their name in your Will. If, however you have several similar animals, who perhaps are being left to different people, you need to be specific to ensure that your intentions are clear to your Executors (the people who you have chosen to carry out your wishes)

Who will look after my pets when I die?

It is a huge responsibility to take on someone’s pet and therefore it is important that you firstly check with the intended person that they will be happy to take on the role. It may also be practical to consider having an alternative person for back up, if for example, your original person is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility.

Should I leave a gift to the person who will take on the care of my pets?

If your pet is accustomed to a privileged lifestyle with you, it may be appropriate to leave a gift in your Will to your chosen beneficiary. Also, if your pet has health needs or is elderly, consider the expenses associated with their care and whether this is likely to affect your chosen beneficiary’s ability to take care of them. If you consider it important to leave cash legacy to the person who you intend on looking after your pets, you may decide to make a cash legacy conditional upon the intended beneficiary, assuming the care of your pet. This would mean that if they are unwilling or unable to take on your pet, they would not be entitled to receive the cash gift.

How much should I leave the intended beneficiary to take care of my pets?

It is important to consider whether or not the gift will be a token gesture for the intended beneficiary assuming the care of your pet, or whether it will be used towards the care and upkeep of your pet generally.

It may be appropriate for you to consider the annual expense involved in the care of your pet together with your pet’s life expectancy. For example, if your pet is young at the time of you making your Will, then you may consider leaving a larger legacy in light of their life expectancy. Similarly if your pet is the type of breed which requires regular care and attention or has specific health needs, then it is appropriate to consider the expenses associated with these conditions and again whether this would affect your intended beneficiary’s ability to take on the role.

What if I have no one to look after my pets when I die?

If you have no-one suitable to look after your pets, it would be sensible to approach an animal charity, such as The Cinnamon Trust or the RSPCA. If the charities agree to take on your pet after your days, we can include a suitable clause within your Will, to ensure that upon your death, arrangements are in place, for your Executors to contact the charity concerned, to arrange the collection of your pets. It is important that arrangements are made with the charity well in advance and we recommend that these arrangements are communicated to your family and friends and in particular, your Executors.

What if I have more pets after I make my Will?

At the time of making your Will, it is practical to consider including a clause within your Will that caters for any future pets that you may have at the date of your death to avoid any uncertainty about who you intended to assume the care of your pets.

Do I need to make a new Will to include a clause to deal with the care of my pets when I die?

It may not be necessary to make a new Will, depending upon the changes you wish to make, as a whole. It it may be possible to add a Codicil to your Will, which will include a clause that deals with your wishes, concerning your pet. We would only recommend adding a Codicil to your Will for small, simple changes. We always recommend that our clients review their Wills every few years, to take into consideration changes in their personal circumstances, budgetary considerations and likely tax implications.

Here at hpjv solicitors we offer a first interview free, we would be delighted to meet with you to discuss your Will requirements.

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