Over the Christmas period, my husband and I welcomed a new member into the family – our Dachshund puppy Toby. We have both always been animal lovers, and I know from experience and speaking with clients that dogs, cats and other animals are more than just pets, they are members of the family. However, Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925, pets are defined as “personal chattels”, so legally they are seen as an item that can be gifted within your will.
That’s why it’s important to consider whether you would like to make any specific provisions for them under the terms of your will. When we think about making a will, we generally think about our spouses, children and other people that we would want to benefit from our estate, sometimes forgetting to think about what would happen if our pets were left behind.
One of the biggest considerations is who you would want to take care of your pet. This is obviously a big responsibility and while you may have a family member or close friend who is a fellow pet lover, it’s always best to check with them whether they would in fact be able and willing to take them on. Another thing to consider is thinking about naming an alternative person in case your “first choice” isn’t able to care for your pet as originally thought.
You may not have someone in mind that would be able to care for your pets – if not, another option is to name an animal charity that you would like to take care of them, and if you would like to, you can specify that you would like the charity to try to re-home them.
Gifts of money can be attached to the provisions for your pets, either to ensure that the person or charity named has the money required to care of your pet, or as way to thank them for assuming responsibility for them.
We all want the very best for our pets, and by making provision for their care in your will, you can make sure that they would still have a happy life after you’ve gone.