Pets and wills

Date: May 07, 2013

Pets are often overlooked when it comes to estate planning and will writing. You can make sure your pet's future is secure by including instructions for their care in your will.

According to "What about me? Your pets and your will" (compiled by the New South Wales Young Lawyers Animal Law Committee), there are a total of four options available when it comes to providing for your pet in your will.

A legacy to a friend or relative with a non-binding request they look after your pet

This involves putting a clause in your will which states that you are leaving your pet to a specific person. The legacy usually includes some sort of pecuniary gift to help the elected carer look after your pet.

Because this is a non-binding request, it is important that you speak with whomever you elect before naming them in your will - just to make sure they are willing to fulfill your request.

You will also want to consider how reliable the person you chose to leave your pet with is. Can you guarantee that they will be able to give your pet all the attention and care that it requires?

A legacy programme with an animal charity

This involves bequeathing money to a charity, such as the New South Wales Animal Welfare League and the NSW RSPCA, who will then either organise a new home for or care for your pet.

It is definitely worth considering if you do not feel that anyone you know would want or be able to care for your pet after you pass away.

Again, contacting or even visiting these charities before you leave your pet to them is a fantastic way to make sure you know exactly where your pet is going and how it is likely to be treated.

A trust for the care and maintenance of your pet

This involves leaving sufficient money and written information detailing how your pet is to be looked after to a friend or relative (the trustee).

Make sure you consider how much it will cost your friend or relative to care for your pet. You don't want to make your pet an unnecessary financial burden on somebody who is unable to afford it.

Euthanasia

If anyone were to dispute a will clause, it would be this one. You will need to discuss euthanising your pet with the will's executor before you choose this option, to make certain they will follow your wishes.