Your pet and your Will: who will look after your beloved pets?
Your pet is your family, have you thought about what happens to your pet once you pass away? In this blog, we give you some options as for the long-term care for your pets. You can gift your pet to a person your trust in your will. You can create a trust for your pets in your will. Finally, you can consider using the Home Ever After Program with RSCPA.
Option 1: Giving your pet as a gift in your Will
In Australia, your pets are seen as property, and thus can be gifted to someone just like any other property in your Will. However, it is important to note that the recipient has the right to refuse the gift. Therefore, it is essential to communicate the transfer of ownership to avoid any misunderstandings, as recipient can decline the gift or refuse to look after your pet.
You should also consider making substitutes for the person looking after your pet in case your primary option is not able to look after your pet.
It is our recommendation for you to initiate a discussion beforehand with the person whom you plan to entrust your animal to, to ensure they are willing to assume the responsibility for your pet.
It is crucial to acknowledge that adopting a pet, particularly someone else’s pet, entails a significant responsibility. Thus, having a conversation beforehand can help ensure a positive outcome for both parties involved.
Furthermore, if you take this route, you should also consider gifting a certain amount to the potential pet caregiver as a means to cover the cost of looking after your pet.
Option 2: Creating a trust for the care and maintenance for your pet
By law, your pets are not able to inherit money directly. As pets, they lack ‘personhood’, therefore making it difficult for pets to have legal standing as beneficiaries of a trust.
Despite the above, the law has allowed some leniency in relation to trusts for animals. Over the last 200 years, a number of such trusts have been recognized by the courts to be valid. The courts have held that if the trustees of such a trust are willing to carry out their obligations, they are free to do so, and the courts will recognize the trust.
In essence, you can create a trust for your pet in your Will. The money in this trust can be used to cover their care and daily expenses in accordance with your wishes.
You will need to appoint a trustee to manage the funds, which can either be your executor or someone else you trust.
Finally, you need also consider adding a clause stating what happens to the balance of the trust once your pet passes away.
Some other important considerations include:
- Duration of the trust
- Specific instructions for your pet’s special needs
Option 3: The Home Ever After Program with RSPCA
In Queensland, RSPCA operates the Home Ever After Program. This program can offer Permanent care for your pets.
RSPCA Queensland will work to find a new home for your pet that is as similar to their former environment as possible. They also provide additional support services such as veterinary checks, medical treatment, behaviour assessment and training. With decades of experience in animal adoptions and rehoming, RSPCA Queensland is well-equipped to ensure your pet is best placed in their new home.
If you do decide to take this route, we highly suggest leaving a donation to RSPCA Queensland in your Will. This will help to cover the expenses of this valuable community program, which is entirely funded by donations. Ascent Lawyers can draft your will to ensure this kind of provision is included and your pets will be a part of the Home Ever After Program or a similar program of your choosing.
How do I make a Will?
You never know what might happen tomorrow. You need to plan ahead for you, and you pets! Plan today and live your life with peace of mind!