Providing for your pet in your will

25/02/2019

Cat And Dog

Following the passing this week of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, it was revealed that he had left some of his $200 million fortune to his cat, Choupette. She is known for living a lavish lifestyle with full time maids hired to care for her with a large following on both Instagram and Twitter!

Almost half of Scottish households owns a pet, and although it is unlikely that they are to be as pampered as Choupette, they will be much loved by their owners. It is increasingly common to make provision in your will for your pet after you have passed away. It is not possible for animals to be the objects of bequest as they are unable to own property so you cannot leave money or other assets directly to an animal. 

Leaving your pet to somebody you trust

The most common way to ensure that your pet is looked after is by including a provision in your will leaving your pet to somebody that you trust. It is important to consider who you would wish to leave your pet to during your life and ask that person in advance if they would be happy to take on this responsibility. You should perhaps consider whether that person is likely to be alive when you pass away e.g. ask somebody younger than you although it is possible to appoint a substitute if the first person has passed away before you. 

It is common that when naming who you would wish to leave your pet to in your will that you would also provide for future pets. This ensures that if the pet who is alive at the time of making the will has died and is named in your will but you have a new pet at the time of your death then the new pet will be included in that provision.

Providing a legacy of money to care for your pet

It is common for people to leave a sum of money to cover the expense of looking after a pet for the remainder of the pet’s life. It is important that there is a level of trust with the person who is to look after your pet as if you are gifting a sum of money with the hope that the money is spent on looking after your pet, you hope that is what the money will be spent on. You would not want anything to happen to your pet so that it’s new carer could simply pocket the money. 

It is also important to consider the sum of money to leave – pets can be expensive and adequate sums should be left with the person who is to take care of your pet. A study last year found that people spent £240 per month on their dog and £100 per month on their cat. 

On a practical note, you should leave a note either with the will or with the person who is to look after the pet with a list of information e.g. medical issues and how you wish your pet to be cared for.

Leaving your pet to charity

If you cannot think of somebody who you would wish to leave your pet to, it is possible to leave your pet to a charity. For example, the Cinnamon Trust takes in dogs whose owners have died. 

If you would like to discuss leaving provision for your pet in your will or any other private client matters, I would be happy to help. My direct contact number is 0131 200 1283 or james.hyams@balfour-manson.co.uk