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How can I ensure my pets will be looked after when I die?

 


How can I ensure my pets will be looked after when I die?

Pets provide us with many things, including companionship, unconditional love and laughs, and, in effect, are considered by many as members of their family. However, have you ever thought about what would happen to your beloved pet(s) in the event of your death, or should they outlive you?

In this blog, we explore the options for you to make provision for your pet(s) in your Will, for example:

  • Who will look after them?
  • Where will they go?
  • What if the person whom you have appointed to take care of them cannot or won’t?

These questions pose a confronting realisation that whilst we may have undertaken careful and considerate planning for our property and assets in the event of death, we may not have turned our mind to our pets.

No matter your age, if you own a pet(s), planning for the ongoing care of your pet in the event of your death is an important consideration you probably had never thought to include as part of your estate planning.

Making provision for your pets in your Will

Like other members of your family, you can include provisions under your Will outlining what is to happen with your pet(s) in the event of your death.

If adequate provision for your pet(s) is not made and no family member or friend is willing or able to care for your pet, you run the risk of pets being left with persons who may not have capacity to care for them. They may be sent to shelters, and in worst cases, pets may be euthanized when they cannot be rehomed.

However, these situations can be avoided if you put in place a clear plan in your Will of what is to happen with your pet(s) should you die. A number of possible ways you can provide for the ongoing care of your pet(s) under your Will are outlined below.

Making a gift or provision for your pets under your Will

The ideal circumstance is where your pet(s) will be able to remain at home and be taken care of by your family members, such as your spouse/partner. However, if this is not possible, other arrangements will need to be made or considered.

Whilst you can gift your pet(s) to someone such as a relative or friend under a specific gift clause in your Will, there are a number of important considerations to think of first, including;

  • a person’s capacity and willingness to care for your pet(s);
  • whether your pet is familiar with that person; and
  • whether your pet(s) would get along with any pet(s) the individual may already have.

Even if you have someone in mind to nominate for the care of your pets, it might still be prudent to also nominate a backup or substitute relative or friend in the event that the person whom you have appointed in the first instance becomes unable or unwilling to care for them due to changes to their circumstance.

You might also like to consider including a specific gift of money under your Will for the purposes of covering the ongoing costs of caring for your pet, such as food and vet fees, especially when you are giving your pet to a family member or friend.

Charitable legacy programs for pets in the event of your death

In the event that you are not able to gift your pet to a family member or friend, you may be interested in signing up for a charitable legacy program.

Such programs are run by animal welfare charities or organisations and are responsible for either finding a new home for your pet or caring for your pet if left a financial legacy under your Will.

In order for such provisions to take place, you will first need to sign up to a suitable program and ensure your pet(s) are accepted into the program before you pass away. Once arranged, it might be important to advise your family, friends or legal representative that your pet(s) are signed up for such a program.

It might also be important to discuss this with your legal representative, especially where a financial legacy might be required under your Will.

Legacy program options

Some examples of reputable legacy programs include the:

Get help from a Wills and estates lawyer

If you have pets and wish to consider providing for them in your Will, contact one of our estate planning lawyers for advice about your options.

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