Theresa Mills
Solicitor
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Date Published:24 May 2019 Last Updated:23 Jun 2021

What happens to my pets when I die?

Wills, Trusts & Probate

The recent BBC article about Emma the dog in Virginia America who was euthanized to be buried with her owner may have got you thinking about your own beloved dogs, cats and other animals on death.

As the BBC article states, healthy animals are sometimes put down in the UK. This includes instances where it has been the last request of their owners but this must be done by a vet.

Many people however choose to leave provision for their pets to either be housed with a family member, friend or rehoming charity.

When leaving an animal to an individual or a charity you should consider:

  • Will the person be able and willing to look after the animal for the rest of its life (whilst a hamster may only live 2 years a horse can live into its 30s);
  • Does the animal have any special care requirements; and
  • How will the new owner fund the care of the animal?

You may wish to leave a specified sum or a percentage of your estate specifically for the person who looks after your pets after you die. Rehoming charities often rely on donations so this should be of particular consideration if you require them to rehome your pet or look after it in the longer term.

You can also set up trust although your options are restricted and it is advisable that you take advice on this as a trust specifically to look after an animal would be a “Trust of Imperfect Obligation” and may not be suitable in all circumstances.

If you would like assistance with making your Will please contact the Wills Trusts & Probate team on 01202 525333.