Last week, some of my colleagues and I volunteered at the RSPCA Llys Nini. It was a rewarding day in helping those who need it most and it also took great strength not to adopt every rescue animal I set eyes upon. From dogs to cats to ferrets, I realised that these rescue animals were once someone’s pets. Not all of them come from caring homes but now these animals have the opportunity to have a new start and a chance to be taken home to a loving family
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association 2017 facts and figures, 44% of households in the UK have pets. That’s a pet population of around 54 million! With such a high percentage of people having pets, there is a risk that these family pets may outlive their owners resulting in these loving animals being left without a home. So what are your options for making sure your pet continues to be cared for after your days?
The Administration of Estates Act 1925 defines domestic animals as “personal chattels” and therefore you are able to make provision for your pets in your will.
It is often assumed that family members and close friends will take responsibility for the family pet after the owner’s death but unfortunately not everyone is willing to take on such a big commitment. If you do have someone in mind, it is important to discuss the matter with that person first prior to gifting your pet to them in your will or codicil. If you are in a position where you are unable to find someone to care for your pet, then there are charities throughout the UK who offer rehoming schemes. To name but a few, there is the RSPCA Home for Life Scheme, the Cinnamon Trust and Cat Guardians.
Regardless of choosing an individual or charity to care for your pet, the care will involve considerable expense. It is important to plan ahead and determine approximate costs for your pet’s future care. You are able to gift cash lump sums to your pet’s carer to help pay for some costs associated to your pet’s future care. You are also to make these cash gifts conditional upon the chosen individual taking on the responsibility of looking after your pet.
Your pet’s carer won’t just need expenses to cover food and vets visits but also any medication, grooming or walking services. It can be tricky to predict how much you will need to leave to cover your pet’s future care but it may be worth calculating their annual care costs and multiplying the figure by their remaining life expectancy. Animals have a routine so the more you plan now to minimise any disturbance to their daily patterns can ensure your pet’s receive a good quality of care.
When preparing your will, it is advisable not to name your pet specifically in your will. Although you should review your will every few years or when there is a change in your circumstances, you should think about the future in case you adopt a new pet. You may also want to include a letter of wishes to accompany your will which provides some detail of how your pet should be taken of or includes important information such as the veterinary surgery they are registered at.
When writing your will to make provision for your pets, it is advisable that you seek professional help to ensure the correct clauses are included. Although charities provide standard clauses to include in wills, it important for your will to be tailored to best suit your needs and ensure it does exactly what you intend it to do.