Can I leave money to my pet in my Will?
Posted on 17th February 2020
It can certainly be argued that our great nation is a lover of our furry-friends (or, perhaps, in some cases, not-so-furry). According to the RSPCA, figures taken from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) show that, as of 2018, the UK pet population stands at approximately 9 million dogs and 8 million cats, with a further 34 million other pets owned, over around 12 million households.
Where should my pet live?
Sadly, what many animal-owners don’t understand (and often may never be made aware of during their lifetimes), is that pets do not have their own legal personality, and therefore it’s not possible to leave them a sum of money for their care, should you predecease them. However, you are able to include provisions in your Will, leaving your pet to a specific person or people (or even to a charity, such as the RSPCA) for the remainder of their lifetime.
If you chose to leave your beloved pet to a family member or a close friend, you may find that it’s a good idea to check with them first that they will be in a position to care for your animal, and that they would be willing to do this. Sadly, people’s circumstances can change, so just in case anything happens and your first choice is unable to care for your animal, it’s a good idea to appoint a back-up carer (again, it would be good to check with them first).
Another option, which can be quite popular for people who may not trust their animal with someone they know, would be to elect a charity to take your animal and re-home them. The RSPCA offers a service called ‘Home for Life’, where the pet can be left to the charity under a Will, and the RSPCA will find them a new home.
Alternatively, you could elect to leave your animal to your executors and trustees, who could make the decision of where the dog is to live on your behalf. You may include a letter to your trustees to outline some of the things you would want them to consider, such as suggested people who could look after the dog, specific things your dog likes and does not like, etc. This allows you to change your mind about the letter over your lifetime, without needing to change your Will.
How will I continue to pay for my pet?
There are also a number of options you may wish to consider alongside leaving your pet to someone, such as whether to ensure they have enough money to care for your beloved during their lifetime.
According to an article on todayswillsandprobate.co.uk, our pets cost us, on average, £1,150.00 per year, per pet. With that in mind, you may find that it’s unreasonable for your loved ones to bear the burden themselves.
One option is to leave the new carer a lump sum of money (also known as a pecuniary legacy) so that they can afford to care for your animal. However, there is a drawback to this: your chosen carer could spend the money in one go, and then not have funds available to care for the pet in the future. A way of circumventing this issue, would be to leave the money to your trustees, to hold in a discretionary trust, on behalf of your pet’s carer. To find out more about this option, and how much our local solicitors for wills would charge for drafting your Will, contact our team, here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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