Making Provisions for Your Pet When You Pass Away

Have you ever considered what would happen to your pet when you pass away?

All too often, it’s simply assumed that a dog or cat will be taken on by friends or family members. Sadly, not everyone is able or willing to take on responsibility for pet care after the death of an owner. So, it may be wise to consider, who will look after your pet?

If you’ve already written a will and bequeathed your entire belongings to a loved one or expressed a wish for someone to care for your pet when you die, they are not duty-bound by law to look after any pets you leave behind. They could be unaware and unprepared for the responsibility if you had not discussed your wishes or feel unable to provide your pet with the care it needs.

It’s wise for animal-lovers to have a serious conversation with a family member or friend about looking after a much-loved pet, so you can ensure your wishes – and your companion’s welfare – are considered when you die. If you live alone, then it is also sensible to consider leaving instructions that will make friends, neighbours or authorities aware of any pets you have and how to access them, should you suddenly be taken ill or die away from home.

If you’ve agreed with someone who is happy to take on responsibility for your pet, you can include details about this arrangement when writing your will or add it as a codicil to your existing will.

Although you can’t leave any money directly or in trust to your pet, you can still consider estate planning for pets. You can include a bequest to the person who’ll be taking care of it, to cover the cost of your pet’s upkeep and vet’s bills. A Will Writer can help you to draft this kind of clause in your will, stating the money has been left to be used by the named beneficiary to pay for the animal’s upkeep until the end of its natural life, or while it is in their care.

You can also leave funds for the upkeep of a pet in the form of a discretionary trust, a sum set aside for the care and upkeep of your pet. Usually, the new owner becomes the trustee responsible for administering the money during your pet’s lifetime. You can also leave instructions about to whom any money left should go to, after the death of your pet. It’s advisable not to name your pet in your will, but simply refer to the ‘dog’ or ‘cats’ that you are bequeathing. This makes things simpler in the event you adopt a new pet in between making your will and the time of your death.

You may also want to add a ‘letter of wishes’ with instructions on how you wish your pet to be taken care of and details about its routine, the veterinary surgery it is registered at, and so on. You don’t need a Will Writer or solicitor to change or add to a letter of wishes, but it’s sensible to keep one alongside a copy of your will. If you have no family or friends willing or able to adopt your pet, many animal charities have pre-need registration schemes you can sign up to, which take care of unwanted cats and homeless dogs. These agreements give them responsibility for pet care after the death of an owner and they will try to find your animals a loving new home.


If you would like some friendly, caring & supportive advice about how we can help you, and your pets, you can call Sara on 01304 577998 or email sara@slswillsandmore.co.uk.


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