Your pet and your Will

29th Mar 2021

It’s not a surprise that the number of households which now own a pet has increased dramatically in the last 12 months. Over £2 million families welcomed an animal into their home during lockdown with over one third of adults under 35 now owning at least one pet.

Our pets are a big part of our lives and many of us see them as family, it is estimated that we spend over £4.6million on them every year in the UK.

It is therefore surprising how often we forget to make arrangements for them if anything was to happen to us. Just like our children and partners, we need to make sure our pets will be cared for if we are no longer around to do so ourselves.

Legally speaking a pet is not a person, in the eyes of the law our pets are seen as ‘chattels’ or possessions. It’s therefore not possible to name your pet as a beneficiary in your Will…they can’t be the heir to your fortune as much as you might want them to be. You can however (and should) make arrangements for them under your Will.

As with any other possession it is possible to leave your pet as a gift to a relative or friend who you know would be willing to care for them. Someone people are happy to just take on the pet but, as we know pets can be expensive, so if you do not want to place a financial burden on that person you can also leave them a sum of money to be used towards the upkeep and maintenance of your pet.

If appropriate the money can be left subject to the terms of trust so you can have a peace of mind that it will be used for your much-loved pet. You would need to name the beneficiaries, who would ultimately benefit from any remaining money after your pet had died, and your trustees who would look after the money and make decisions about its use. To be valid these types of trusts must be carefully drafted so it’s important that you seek appropriate legal advice if you want to incorporate this into your Will.

Alternatively, you can nominate a charity in your Will to take on the responsibility of re-homing your pet. You can’t of course legally compel them to take on your animal, but you can express a wish as guidance to your executors. Many charities have programmes in place to register your pet while you are alive, and your Will is a good place to make your friends and family aware of any arrangements you might have made.

You may also want to include a letter of wishes in addition to your Will, giving the person who will be caring for your pet all the information they need to know. The letter can cover important information such as vet details, microchip IDs, dietary requirements, and medical issues. It can also cover more personal details about the care you expect them to receive.

When speaking to any of our clients about Wills we make sure we ask the right questions so issues such as pets don’t get missed.

If you want to make a Will or review one you have already made, we have several people that can assist you here at McHale & Co to get started please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at

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