Pets in Wills: provide for them

9th April 2020

Provisions for Pets in a Will

Over half of the UK’s adults are pet owners which clearly shows we are a nation of animal lovers and not necessarily of the furry kind.

We treat our pets like family members and want the best for them, but in the eyes of the law, our little friends are considered as property just the same as a table or phone is. As a result, we are not able to leave a cash sum to our pets under a Will. The pet itself can be left as a gift or asset in the same way you would leave your wedding ring or car to a beneficiary. This brings the added complication that when gifting a pet to a beneficiary, that pet will of course need to be looked after by someone who is agreeable to do that and has the funds to take care of it. Here at Burtons we ensure special provisions are put in your Will ensuring long term care is put in place for your special friend.

Steps to consider

Firstly, you will need to think about who the best person would be to take on your little furry friend or indeed in some cases, scaly friend. A friend or family member perhaps would be the ideal person and someone who knows enough about you and how you have treated your friend to continue to give it the loving home it has been used to. It won’t be easy as pets have feelings too and they also feel the loss of an owner just as much as you and I would.

In the event a friend or family can’t take on your pets

Most charities can offer support and in some cases, people make a contribution in their Will for that specific charity to help cover the expense of rehoming. The RSPCA, for example, offers a Home for Life service where the pet itself is gifted to the charity under the Will and the RSPCA ensure they find a good home.

You may like to leave the decision to your Executors, you could leave them details of your wishes, the kind of home you feel would be better suited, food preferences and habits etc. in a Letter of Wishes which would sit with your Will. By doing it this way, you will not have to make any changes to your Will if you change your mind, it would simply be that we alter the Letter of Wishes for you.

The cost

There is no getting away from the fact our little friends cost us money, on average we spend over £1,200 a year on them, not forgetting the cost of vets bills on top. So how do we do it? It is not as simple as leaving your pet your money as they lack legal personhood. It is however possible to leave such sums of money FOR the pet. You may wish to leave the beneficiary who will be taking on your furry friend the money as a gift, but with that comes the added worry that if you gift the beneficiary a large sum of money to ensure your pet is taken care of, there is nothing to prevent them spending the money on themselves.

At Burtons, we could set up a discretionary trust so that the beneficiary receiving the pet gets drip-fed funds by way of the executors and trustees of the estate – this gives you more reassurance that the pot of money you have put aside for your faithful companion is used for that benefit and not a fashion trip or luxury holiday. Your Executors and Trustees would also have the discretion not to release funds if that pet was not being taken care of or in fact if the beneficiary declines to take care of it further.

Get in contact

If you would like to ensure your furry family member is taken care of in the event of your death, you can fill out an online contact form here and we’ll be in touch.