What about your furry friends? Caring for your pet in the event of death or incapacity
Our Family and Relationship Law team recently issued an alert about pet 'custody' following a relationship breakdown. For many of us, pets are loyal companions and much-loved members of the family. We spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that they are healthy and happy. Despite this, it is often the case that no mention is made of a pet’s future care in their owner’s Will or Enduring Power of Attorney. Many people simply assume that they will outlive their pets – but did you know some parrots can live to be over 100 years old!
Have you considered what would happen to your beloved pet if you suddenly died or lost capacity?
The law unfortunately regards pets as property, like a person’s car or furniture, and therefore, in the absence of specific provision for a pet’s welfare, there may be limited protection available for them if their owner can suddenly no longer care for them.
In some cases, relatives or friends will step in to care for a pet in these circumstances. In other cases, pets sadly end up in an animal refuge, or being prematurely euthanised if no new home can be found for them. For pet owners, this can be a daunting realisation and an unhappy outcome for all concerned.
To avoid this, it is essential to plan for your pet’s future care and to help ensure that your estate planning documents specifically address the topic.
It is not possible to leave money directly to your pet in your Will, however, some options you may wish to consider include:
Your Enduring Power of Attorney should similarly express your wishes for your pet if you are no longer able to care for them, and specifically authorise your financial attorney to use your resources to put those wishes into effect.
Whatever you decide, planning ahead and discussing your intentions with the relevant people including your appointed attorneys and executors, family members, friends and/or selected charities is key to ensuring that your pet is dealt with in accordance with your wishes and that stress is minimised for those charged with the task of looking after their immediate welfare.
If you would like advice regarding providing for your pets in the event of your death or incapacity, please contact our experienced Estates and Succession team.