Providing For Pets In A Will

Inheritance Dog
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Pets are a special case when writing a Will. They are classed as chattels (things we own) but they are living creatures and so deserve special care. Many pets have shorter lives than us but a few like parrots and tortoises have very long lives. As with our non-living chattels, we do not know what we will own at the time of our death. Therefore, specific animals are not usually detailed in your Will. It is more usual to refer to “any animals which I may own at the time of my death.”
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Nominating a Carer for your Pet

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Unlike most chattels, animals need care and attention. They need to be fed and may need regular exercise. Therefore when choosing a person to look after them, you will need to consider their circumstances such as their levels of fitness, living arrangements, and lifestyle. When making a gift of an animal you should nominate a specific individual. However, you should make sure you have their permission. They are not obliged to take on your pet just because you name them in your Will. Many people will want to nominate a reserve carer. This is a person who will step in just in case the first person nominated is unwilling or unable to act.
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Pets and Money

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Anyone who has owned a pet knows that they cost money to look after. There are food, regular vet bills and costs associated with looking after the pet when the primary carer is away on holiday.  In order to help the person taking on your pet, you may wish to consider leaving them a sum of money to help with these costs. However when making a gift to a person to look after the pet, there is no guarantee that they will spend the money on the pet.
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Letter of Wishes for Pets

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One potential solution is to prepare a letter of wish addressed to your executors. This letter could outline the what you would like to be done with your pet on your death. This may include who you would like to look after it and any compensation they should have. As this is a letter of wish it would not be legally binding on the executors and so give them some flexibility on what should be done. It also provides the testator (you) with the ability to change your wishes without incurring the cost of amending your Will.
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Gift to Charity

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There are several charities in the UK which would take in your pet and try and rehome them, examples are:
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In the UAE, the dog rescue centres are usually very full. More exotic pets such as tropical fish or reptiles require specialist knowledge. Therefore I would recommend trying to find a friend or colleague who would be willing to adopt your pet.
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Animal Trusts

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Animal trusts are a legal arrangement where the pet is the legal beneficiary of the trust assets. These trusts are established via your Will. Your executors would usually be appointed as trustees with the responsibility of making sure the money invested in the trust is used for the benefit of the animal. However, as the animal has no right or ability to complain if they do not receive the correct sum, this can be an expensive route with limited benefits since there are costs associated with establishing a trust and administering it.
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For more information on providing for your pet, contact us.

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