What will happen to your pet if you die?

1st September 2021



Here in the UK, we’re often described as a ‘nation of animal lovers’ that’s why today, we’re bringing this particular subject to your attention.

You may find yourself asking what this has to do with us here at BHP Law, it will all become clear soon, just keep reading.

Every year, tens of thousands of pets are put at risk of becoming homeless when their owner dies. With this in mind, we are asking pet owners if they have provisions in place to ensure their much-loved animal is taken care of should they unfortunately pass away.

If you have a pet and you live alone, then it’s sensible to consider leaving instructions for friends, neighbours or authorities with regards to the pets you have and how to access them, should you suddenly be taken ill or sadly die.

It is often assumed that a pet such as a cat or dog, can be taken care of by friends or family. Sadly, not everyone is able or willing to take on such responsibility for many plausible reasons.

We suggest that pet owners have an open and honest conversation with a family member or a friend about them possibly taking care of the much-loved animal should the worst happen.

Once this is agreed with someone who is happy to take on the responsibility it maybe that these arrangements are documented to ensure your wishes are taken care of, you could include details about this arrangement when writing your Will or you could add it as a codicil to your existing Will.

We must state that even though this is written in your Will, the individual albeit a friend or family member is not duty-bound by law to look after any pets. They could have underestimated the true involvement and be unable to provide your pet with the care it needs.

If a relative or friend does agree to take care of them, you could also make a provision for your pets in your Will. You can’t actually leave any money directly or in trust to your pet such as a dog or cat but you can consider estate planning for pets. You can include a bequest to the person who’ll be taking care of them, to help cover the cost of your pet’s upkeep and any veterinary bills.

If you have no family or friends or ones that are unable to adopt your pet, many animal charities have pre-need registration schemes that you can sign up to, such schemes take care of animals that sadly have no owners. These agreements give them responsibility for pet care after the death of an owner and they will try to find animals a loving new home.

It’s worth mentioning, most of these free registration schemes have pre-written clauses where you can include in or add to your Will the option of leaving the charity a legacy to help care for your pet.

There is no denying, it’s a sensitive subject but an important one nonetheless. If you need assistance with writing a Will or adding a codicil to your existing Will ensuring your wishes are taken into account our specialist team can help, give us a call on 01325 466794.

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