How should I take care of my pets when I make a Will?
(let our experience help you decide what to do)
Taking Care of Pets
For many of us our pets are particularly important, providing loving companionship
at a stage of our life when family have fledged the nest. Our concern is then how
to provide for our domestic animals should we pass away before they do.
From time to time we read in the newspapers the stories of pets being left large
amounts of money in a Will. These stories make great headlines, but the reality is
often not so dramatic and certainly those who have left such Wills have probably
been poorly advised.
When dealing with pets (be that cats, dogs, horses or any other domestic animals)
we have to think in a very practical way. It is important to recognise that these
animals may well need to be cared for BEFORE we pass away - such as if we are suddenly
taken to hospital. Therefore we need to have arrangements for their care in place
Furthermore, even if we are not hospitalised but simply pass away at home, a pet
cannot wait for weeks or months whilst a Will is sorted out - they need somewhere
to stay and someone to feed them straightaway.
Therefore our priority must be to have in place a plan for their care, one that does
not rely on the Will. Typically that will be a good friend or neighbour - someone
who knows the foibles of the animals in question and who can love the animal as you
Of course taking on an animal long term can be a significant financial undertaking,
one which your friend or neighbour might struggle to make. Therefore, if appropriate,
you can consider leaving a small legacy to the person in order to provide for the
animal’s care. However, you should also recognise that it is very hard to predict
how long (or short) an animal might survive you by. Hence the size of the legacy
needs to be considered carefully.
We would advise NOT doing something like leaving your house to be the home for the
animal, nor leaving tens of thousands of pounds for their care - the practical problems
involved can be immense. Rather, concentrate on identifying the right person to care
for the animal and then, if appropriate, leave that person a small legacy towards
any costs and also as a thank-you for them being prepared to take on the responsibility.