Pets are for life, not just for Christmas

22nd December 2021

During the festive season, many families dream of a furry friend for Christmas. Pets can make a great addition to a family.

The RSPCA has said that 3.2m households added a new pet to their family during lockdowns. However, pets are long term commitments. Along with enjoying your new-found friend, you should think about the financial care and practicalities, like space and your family’s routine. Is there someone free to stay home to look after your pet or do you have a plan for when you go on holiday? You may also wish to consider what will happen to your pet should you die.

Under the law in England and Wales pets are considered “personal possessions”, meaning you cannot leave any money directly to your pet.  Fortunately, there are other ways to provide for your pet in your will.

Firstly, you could make a gift of your pet to somebody you trust to look after them. You might want to leave this person a sum of money to cover the costs of care. You would need to consider what the likely costs would be, and how long it might live. You should also consider what might happen if the person you name is unable or unwilling to look after your pet.

You could also give your pet to the executors of your will, with a separate letter of wishes setting out who you want to care for it and what you would like to happen if this person is unable or unwilling to care for it. It is also possible to set up a trust for the maintenance of your pet after your death.

A further option is to leave your pet, with a cash gift, to an animal charity, in the hope that they will be able to find it a new home. Several animal charities have schemes allowing pet owners to register with them so that they can care for pets following the owner’s death.