Pets usually have a shorter life span than their human caregivers therefore, many of us have not provided for our pets should we die tomorrow.
Many animals end up being surrendered to shelters after their owners die and many of them do not find new homes. Usually, family members want to ensure a better outcome for the animals, but simply may not be able to take care of them or find a suitable home.
In some cases, pets are discovered in the person’s home after they have passed away. To prevent this from happening to your pet, you should provide for your pets in your Will to ensure that your treasured pets can be looked after in the event of your death.
One of the most common ways of providing for a faithful companion is through the use of a legacy program with an animal charity, or find a responsible friend or relative who can agree to serve as temporary emergency caregiver in the event that something unexpected happens to you. You should provide that friend or relative with the keys to your home, feeding and care instructions, the name of your veterinarian and information about the permanent care provisions you have made for your pet.
It is a good idea to check that the nominated person agrees to take on the pet beforehand.
A gift of money is optional, but if it is calculated to cover the cost of maintaining the pet during their lifetime, it will act as an incentive for the nominated person to keep the pet and follow your wishes.
Your lawyer will help draft your Will which will determine the rightful new owner of your pet should you die. This can include leaving a sum of money to an animal charity with a legacy program such as the RSPCA or leaving your pet to a friend, neighbour or family member, either with or without a gift of a sum of money.
Whichever avenue suits you best, discussing the options with family members and friends – as well as gaining the advice of a competent Wills and Estates lawyer – can help to ensure that the end choice works for everyone so that no party feels the need to challenge the Will.