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January 2018

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What will happen to my pet after I die

By Sarah Camm

Working out what will happen to your estate and who will benefit from it can be a bit like a checklist:

  • Spouse – check
  • Children – yep
  • Parents – sorted
  • Siblings – okay
  • Pet?

For many people, their pet might actually be their most dependent dependant. Have you thought about what will happen to your furry friend after you pass away?

Where will they go?

Many people don’t like to think of pets as property and humans as owners, but in the eyes of the law these particular family members are treated as chattels, and will go to your beneficiaries.

Can I give them my property?

No, unfortunately your pet pup cannot actually own your house, or your jewellery or even your cash. This is probably a good thing because I doubt they would know what to do with it. Luckily you can leave a portion of your estate “for the benefit of” your bestie.

Who should I leave the property to?

There are a couple of options.

If you have only one pampered pet in your life, you might leave a fixed sum to a person that you trust who will use these funds for the benefit of your pet. This should be the same person as you actually name as the new carer for your pet. You obviously trust them with your pet’s wellbeing, just be sure you trust them to use the cash correctly.

If you have a few pets, or you want separate people to help with care and finances you might consider setting up a trust for your beloved companions. A trust gives you a bit more control, and may even generate its own income, meaning your property can provide for your pet for some time to come.

Important things to remember

  1. Make sure your Will is valid and binding – a dispute over the validity of your Will could cause costly litigation and delay, meaning your pet’s future may be uncertain.
  2. Make your intentions clear – your Will should clearly state who is to look after your pet after you die, and what (if any) property you are leaving for their benefit.
  3. Leave your pet to one beneficiary, but name a backup just in case.
  4. Make sure your pet’s new owner has agreed!!

Dogs, cats and all other furry friends thrive on consistency and don’t like to move around a lot. Taking the time now to make their futures certain can make a confusing time in their life a little more comfortable, and give you the peace of mind that they will be well looked after for years to come.

A Wills & Estates solicitor can assist you to work through a number of best – and worst – case scenarios to ensure that your Will is as certain as possible. At Just Us Lawyers we have experience in drafting Wills for clients with a wide range of circumstances. Contact Just Us Lawyers Wilston office to enquire about drafting a new Will that reflects your wishes.