Gifts to Pets in Your Will

In the realm of estate planning, one aspect that is often overlooked or not well-understood is the inclusion of provisions for pets in your will. Whilst pets are considered cherished members of many families, the law typically views them as property. As such, they require special consideration in your estate planning to ensure their continued care and well-being after your passing.

The first step in bequeathing a gift to your pet in your will is to clearly identify the pet or pets you wish to provide for. Include their names, species, and any distinguishing characteristics to avoid any ambiguity. This will help ensure that there is no confusion regarding your intent.

Selecting a trustworthy individual to care for your pet is crucial. This person will be responsible for your pet’s daily needs and ensure they receive the love and attention they deserve. Make sure to discuss your intentions with this person beforehand and gain their consent.

To support your pet’s care, you can set aside funds in your will. It’s advisable to specify a reasonable amount to cover food, veterinary care, grooming, and any other needs your pet might have. You can either leave a lump sum or establish a pet trust to manage these funds.

A pet trust is a legally binding document that outlines how the allocated funds should be managed for your pet’s benefit. This ensures that the funds are used exclusively for your pet’s welfare. Specify the trustee’s role, the duration of the trust, and how any remaining funds should be distributed after your pet’s passing.

Life circumstances can change, and it’s essential to revisit your will periodically to ensure that your pet’s needs are adequately addressed. If your designated “pet guardian” becomes unable or unwilling to care for your pet, it may be necessary to appoint a new caretaker.

Consulting with an experienced estate planning professional is advisable when including provisions for your pets in your will.

This article was prepared by Naomi Augustine-Walker, a private client solicitor in our London office. You can contact Naomi by email: or by telephone: 020 3831 2669 For our Bromley office please call 020 8464 4242 and for Surrey please call 01372 750100.