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Can You Put Your Dog In Your Will?

View profile for Nicola Dalzell
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From 6th April next year it will be a legal requirement to have your dog micro-chipped in England.  It is expected that Wales will follow suit later in the Spring.

Many animal charities have announced that micro-chipping will be offered free of charge at their centres or, at a very small cost.  So if your dog is not micro-chipped, now is the time to consider it.

Micro-chipping gives a dog owner piece of mind that they will be reunited with your dog if the unthinkable happens and your dog is lost, but have you thought about what will happen to your beloved dog when you die?

Most of us understand that Wills distribute our assets but we can also use Wills to provide for what happens to our dogs when we die. Providing for the care for a dog in your Will is not uncommon and many times clients are surprised that provision can be made for their dog, or any other pet, in their Will. There are a few options that you can consider to provide for your dog in your Will:

  • The first option is to leave legacy in your Will giving your dog and a cash sum to a named beneficiary.  You will need to consider if receiving the cash sum is conditional on the beneficiary taking care of your dog.  If the cash sum is not made so, then it is possible the beneficiary may take the cash but not the care of your dog. You will also need to consider including provision for a substitute beneficiary, in case the named beneficiary has died before you, or refuses to take care of your dog.
  • A second option is to leave your dog and a cash sum to your executors, together with a letter of wishes explaining to them how they are to deal with your dog and the cash.  In the letter of wishes, you can name the person who you would like to take care of your dog using the cash you have left for its care.  You can also explain to the executors who you would like to be the substitute carer of your dog, or what they should do in the event no one is willing to take care of your dog.  Your letter of wishes can be reviewed periodically and changed if necessary, without the expense of redrafting your Will.
  • The third option is to leave your dog and a cash sum to an animal welfare charity along with a request that your dog is rehomed in a suitable home. You may think there is an obvious disadvantage with this option, which is that you have no knowledge or control of whom your dog is rehomed with and there is always the possibility that your dog is unsuitable for rehoming.  However, this option also has advantages, one of which is that it may give you piece of mind as the charity will use its vetting processes to find a suitable home for your dog.  Another advantage is that any cash gift to a charity is free of inheritance tax provided it is a qualifying UK charity.

It is essential that any clause in your Will is carefully drafted taking into account the possibility that any dog named in the Will has passed away or you have taken on another dog by the date of your death. There are many other, non-financial gifts and provisions that you can make in your Will, for instance appointing guardians for your children and gifts of specific personal items.

Your Will is an important document that can not only ensure your loved ones are secure financially, but can also provide for non financial matters.