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10th July 2017

Pet Lovers and Probate

For those of us with furry friends, we do sometimes wonder what life will be like for them should we pass away.

We want to ensure they are protected and loved once we are no longer there to look after them.

It is possible to leave your animals in your Will to friends or family members, whom you trust to take care of your pets once you are gone. A small monetary gift alongside this could help to ensure your pampered pooch is kept in a style to which he or she has become accustomed.

Specifically placing money into trust for the sole benefit of an animal is problematic: English law gives very few exceptions to the rule that only human beneficiaries can receive money under a trust. Although there is a common law means of leaving money for the welfare of an animal for a defined number of years, this is rare and not particularly advisable.

However, providing money on a discretionary trust basis to the recipient of your pet may be a more nuanced means of ensuring that funds might be used for your pets after you have died.

Some charities operate a service whereby they can quickly and safely receive your pets, and provide food and shelter for them once you have passed away: you may wish to speak to your local charities and see what options may be available to minimise distress and harm to your pets at that difficult time.

You may also want to consider leaving a gift of money for a relevant charity: not only will this help look after other animals, but it may also reduce the inheritance tax payable on your estate.

Speak to your local will writer if you have any queries over how best to look after your beloved pets.