When making a will, people often consider who they wish to leave their financial assets to, though seldom think about their much-loved companions and it is often assumed that care of pets may be taken on by surviving family members. Taking on responsibility for an animal is a big task, and it is not something that everyone can undertake. Careful consideration should be given as to who is most suitable to look after their needs.
Provision can be made in wills as to record for who you would want to look after your animals when you are no longer with us. Whilst such a provision can be expressed, such a request is an expression of wish and therefore the person is not bound to follow your wishes. Having a conversation with that person as to whether they would be happy to take on responsibility for your pets may help with this. You may also wish to consider the financial implications on them and whether it would be appropriate to bequeath them a legacy towards food costs and future vet fees.
If you live on your own or do not have anyone who would be able to take on care of your pets, there are several charitable schemes with whom you can pre-register to ensure that your animals find caring and loving homes after you are gone, such as the RSPCA’s Home for Life Scheme, the Dogs Trust Canine Care Card and the Cats Protection League’s Cat Guardians Card amongst others. As with personal appointment of pet care-givers, you may wish to consider leaving the charity a legacy in recognition of the responsibility they are taking on.
Of course, being able to care for your animals may not just be impacted by death. If you were of an age where it was no longer feasible for you to care for your animals appropriately or a health condition meant that you were unable to do so, The Cinnamon Trust may be able to help. The Cinnamon Trust has a network of over 17,000 community service volunteers who can provide practical help where day to day care poses a problem, for example walking a dog or getting food supplies.
If you wish to obtain advice on making a Will or providing for your animals when you are gone, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Tax and Estate Planning Team on 01622 698000.