Don't forget about your pets when estate planning

Date: Mar 28, 2014

One of the most difficult aspects of estate planning can be deciding who to leave your assets to, and how much they should receive.

You are allowed to leave your assets to anyone you like, according to the Law Society of New South Wales. However, it's a good idea to "provide adequately" for your loved ones - such as your spouse or de facto partner, as well as your children or dependents. 

If you do this, your assets are less likely to be the focus of an estate dispute when you have passed away.

One "family member" who is unable to challenge a will, but you might want to "provide adequately" for anyway is your pet.

In the United States, bequeathing large and small amounts of money to a pet is becoming more and more common. A story published by Headline and Global News in January 2014 revealed that at least 9 per cent of Americans include their furry friends - cats, dogs, birds and even monkeys - among their beneficiaries.

"Many people think of their pets as family members and want to make sure they are well provided for," Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association, told the Wall Street Journal.

It is not just Americans who hold a special place in their hearts for pets. The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) revealed that a huge number of Australians, too, are pet-obsessed.

In a report published in September 2013, the SMH stated that 90 per cent of pet-owners Down Under viewed their cats and dogs as family members, collectively spending $8 million on their upkeep each year.

If you live in New South Wales, you have a range of options when it comes to estate planning and pets. 

According to "What About Me? Your Pets and Your Will" - released by the New South Wales Young Lawyers Animal Law Committee - you can make a non-binding request that a loved one care for your pet once your gone, or leave a gift of money to a charity so they can look after your pet.

You can also organise a trust for your pet, or decide to have it euthanised if you can't find anyone to become its new caregiver. 

If you need help with estate planning and advice on who you may or may not be able to leave your assets to, get in touch with the estate lawyers at Craddock Murray Neumann.