Is it possible to name a pet in your Will?
When talking to clients about their Wills and the wishes for their estates, they often ask if it is possible to name a pet in your Will.
Whilst it is not possible to leave money or assets to a pet, it is possible to make provision for a pet under the terms of a Will.
It is possible to leave a cash legacy to an individual and ask them to use that legacy to continue to care for the animal. However, it must be remembered that the legacy will pass to the individual irrespective of whether or not they take on the care of the animal.
The alternative is to make the legacy conditional on the person receiving it agreeing to look after the animal. If the person does not agree to do so, they will not receive the legacy. This imposes much more of a moral obligation on the person receiving the legacy to look after the animal rather than expressing a wish that they do so.
Things to consider when naming a pet in a Will
As well as the monetary side of things, there are a number of other points to consider when naming a pet in a Will.
A pet is generally considered a personal chattel for the purposes of determining how an estate devolves; unless that animal is a working animal (such as a sheep dog) in which case the animal may be regarded as a business asset.
Careful consideration should also be given to whom the person making the Will would like to care for their pets; as well as the age, health and life expectancy of the pet. It is often best to discuss your intentions with the person you want to leave the pet and any money to, to make sure that they know your wishes and are willing to follow them; and of course, are willing to take on the responsibility of looking after your pets in the first place!
Pets are often considered a very important part of the family and it is important to make sure that they are not forgotten about when preparing your Will.