With around 11 million UK households owning a pet, a significant number of people have a four-legged friend that they care for very dearly and consider an important part of the family.
As the nation’s love for pets goes from strength-to-strength it is becoming more commonplace for people to worry about what would happen to their beloved pet should they die before their furry friend. As part of National Pet Month, Hannah Foulds from Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP explains how owners can ensure that their pets are cared for should the worst happen.
Personal Chattels are defined by the Administration of Estate Acts 1925 and UK law regards a deceased person’s pets as Personal Chattels. If specific provisions for what should happen to a person’s pets are not made within their Will, their pets shall legally form part of their estate as a Personal Chattel and will pass to their residuary beneficiary.
So, what would you like to happen to your pet upon your death? For people who would prefer their pet not to form part of their estate, it is a good idea for them to stipulate in their Will who will take over ownership.
Therefore, they could indicate that they wish to leave their dog to John Smith’ and this shall ensure their dog, should it survive its owner, will pass to the said John Smith’. Pet owners can also make provision that should the person receiving the pet accept responsibility, they will receive a pecuniary legacy (cash gift) from their Will.
However, owners can also stipulate that should their pet have predeceased them, the pecuniary legacy will fail as the pet has died. It is always advisable to ask the person who the pet would be left to if they would be willing to look after the pet upon the owner’s death. Should they refuse after the owner’s death, once again, the pet would form part of its owner’s estate and pass to the residuary beneficiary.
It may be that the owner is leaving their estate to a certain person but do not wish to leave their pet to them and they have no other person to leave the pet to. In this instance, owners could consider including in their Will that they wish to leave their pet to a particular Pet Charity for rehoming. They could also include a pecuniary legacy to pass to the charity should they so wish. It would be advisable that the owner contacts their considered Pet Charity to ensure they do offer a rehoming programme.
Millions of people own pets, but a lot have not considered what would happen to their pet should they die. Including provision for pets in their Will will put an owner’s mind at ease that they will be looked after and cared for in accordance with their wishes after their death.