When people draft their Wills they often have their loved ones in mind, such as their partners or their children. On occasion loved ones that need to be provided for include furry friends, and that can give rise to a whole different set of concerns legally.
Is it legal to leave an inheritance to your pet?
Despite stories of millionaire cats, it’s not legal to leave an inheritance directly to a pet, but you can leave an inheritance for their benefit.
There are a two main ways to go about this:
Leave cash to the person who will care for your pet and hope they don’t betray your trust; or
Leave cash to a trust fund set up by your will, specifying how the money is to be applied. The person controlling the trust can provide the money to the carer based on the needs of the pet.
There are a number of advantages to using a trust, including:
You can specify exactly how the money is to be used.
The money can be applied to just individual carers, but also a pet sanctuary.
Once your pet passes away, the remaining money can be distributed to beneficiaries - such as family, friends or related charities, in accordance with your wishes.
What happens if there is a dispute?
Despite your wishes, a will can be challenged. Hence, it's best to formalise these arrangements rather than rely on something more ad-hoc. If you don’t have a formal arrangement in place, there is a risk the carer will spend the money on something other than for the pet’s care and there’s also a risk that a dispute will occur over who is entitled to any surplus once your pet passes away.
To minimise disputes it’s important to leave as clear instructions as possible in your will about how you want your pets to be taken care of. It is also recommended that you get independent legal advice when drafting a will. AHL Legal have experienced Wills lawyers (Chinese speaking as well) who can help you draft a will to your satisfaction.