If you’ve ever had a pet, you’ll know just how quickly they become part of the family. Pets like dogs, cats, rabbits and even snakes can provide all sorts of valuable benefits, from companionship and affection to stress relief and entertainment. If you have a pet, you’ll want to be sure they would be cared for if you weren’t able to for any reason.
Many of us would be able to rely on family members or close friends to step in to look after our animal friends if needed. However, this isn’t always an option. If you’re concerned about what would happen to your pet if you became very unwell or if you died, you might want to consider making a plan.
Charities such as the RSPCA and Dog’s Trust or local organisations such as Keep Your Pet in York or Mayhew in London offer schemes to foster or rehome pets where necessary. Researching these options in advance is likely to make things much smoother for your pet should they ever be needed.
You may also want to consider making legal arrangements to ensure your plans and wishes for your pet’s future have been properly recorded.
Should you include your pet in your Will?
If you’re a pet owner, we would absolutely recommend that you consider including your pet in your Will. Though it is not legally possible to actually leave any money or property to an animal, you can use your Will to earmark money for the future care of your pet.
Your solicitor will be able to ensure that a sum of money from your estate is put in trust to cover any future expenses for your pet, including food, regular care and vet bills. You will need to name at least one trustee to manage this money on behalf of your pet.
It’s important to carefully consider the sum you leave in this trust. Anything that seems disproportionate to what the pet might reasonably need to have spent on it at the expense of other close beneficiaries could leave your Will vulnerable to an inheritance claim. It might also be sensible to consider what would happen to any funds that might be left in the trust after the death of your pet. For example, you might decide that it would be fitting to leave any leftover funds to an animal charity.
What about other pet care wishes?
In addition to leaving a sum of money for the future care of your pet, you might want to ensure you have made your wishes for how the pet should be cared for clear. In these cases, it can be beneficial to put together a Pet Directive, which is a legal document that would allow you to record these instructions.
A Pet Directive is a formal document that can be stored with your Will. Though your executors will not be legally bound to follow any instructions left in the directive, making one does enable you to pass on all necessary information in a format that won’t be overlooked.
Details you might want to include in a Pet Directive include:
- Who you wish to take over the guardianship of your pet.
- Any charities who may be able to organise for your pet to be fostered or rehomed.
- Key contacts such as preferred vets, groomers and sitters.
- Your pet’s health history.
- Any food requirements or preferences.
- Any likes, dislikes and key routines.
A Pet Directive could also be a very useful document if you were to become unable to care for your pet due to illness, especially if you weren’t able to communicate this important information yourself. Because of this, you might want to consider talking to a solicitor about putting a Pet Directive together if you are in the early stages of an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Where to start
If you want to make a plan for your pet’s future, a specialist wills and probate solicitor will be able to advise you on the best way forward.
For a limited time, we are offering a complimentary Pet Directive when you make a Will with us. If you’d like to plan for your pet’s future as well as your own, please get in touch.
How Roche Legal can help
We are reassuring experts who can help you with a wide range of legal matters. Please get in touch if you need legal support with:
- Trusts and Estate Planning
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Contested Probate and Will Disputes
- Powers of Attorney
- Court of Protection matters
- Presumption of Death Applications
- Missing Persons Guardianship Applications
Need further help?
If you would like to discuss how we can assist further, please contact us.