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Lucy's Law: Can You Protect Your Dog In Your Will?

The government in April 2020 introduced “Lucy’s Law” to ban the commercial third-party sale of animals such as dogs and cats. Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors explain the law change and how to protect pets with your Will.

Lucy’s Law was first discussed by government figures in May 2019 before being recently enforced this April almost a year on. It means much better treatment of dogs and ensures that they can be instantly moved into a new environment and ownership that is safe and healthy for them.

What is Lucy’s Law?

The law itself aims to crack down on ‘Puppy Farms’ and was introduced after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lucy was subjected to terrible living conditions as a result of this environment before being rescued.

Michael Gove said it was about “giving our animals the best possible start in life”, adding, “it will put an end to the early separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers, as well as the terrible conditions in which some of these animals are bred.”

It effectively means that anybody who would want a new puppy or kitten in England must now consider adopting from a rescue centre, or they must buy the animal directly from a breeder.

How can you buy an animal through Lucy’s Law?

The RSPCA recommends that anyone looking to get a puppy or kitten should consider rescuing instead of buying.

The government recommend however that you do your research, checking the contact details of those you are buying from, as well as the age of the animal and the animal’s health records to ensure all is correct in terms of microchipping, etc.

The next step after adoption or purchase? Enjoying yourselves! From this point, you can now enjoy the warm feeling of not only having a new pet in your life, but the knowledge that it is now in safe hands and can live a full and happy life.

How can I provide for my dog in my Will?

One final step you can make to ensure your pet receives further support in the future is by adding protection for it in your Will. The majority of people understand the benefits of making a Will when talking about family and loved ones, but this is also the case with pets – so how can you do this?

We are a nation of animal lovers and it is becoming increasingly common for clients to consider how they can provide not only for their families and love ones in a Will, but also to provide protection and care for their pets.

When considering including provisions for a pet in your Will There are several options that are available for you to consider. Here are a few:

A Legacy to a beneficiary of your choice

  • A Will can be drafted to include leaving your dog to a named beneficiary. You may also wish to incorporate a cash gift in conjunction with this so that the beneficiary has funds available for the ongoing care and maintenance of your pet, i.e. food/general wellbeing and veterinary bills. However, you will need to consider whether or not the lump cash payment is only on condition of the beneficiary taking care of your dog. If this is not carefully written into the Will then the beneficiary could potentially receive the cash payment and not look after your dog. You may also wish to make further provision in the event of your named beneficiary dying before you and therefore naming a further replacement beneficiary to care for you dog if this is the case.

Letters of Wishes

  • Another option is to have a carefully worded letter of wishes wrote alongside your Will giving direction to your executors (the legal representatives entitled to deal with your estate) giving instructions in relation to the care of your pet in the event of your death. A cash sum can be left to the executors to use for the re-homing of your pet or to make payment to the person you have selected as beneficiary.  The letter of wishes can also include your wishes in the event that no one is willing to take care of your pet.

Animal charity

  • There are of course a number of suitable of animal charities who may be willing to take care of your dog upon death if you do not have a suitable beneficiary in mind. You may wish to make a charitable gift (with is also exempt from inheritance tax if a registered UK Charity) to the named charity and a request that they re-home your pet.

Using one of these options will give you the peace of mind that your treasured family pet is looked after and arrangements have been put in place.

Please contact our expert will drafting team who can advise you in more details about your options and anything other queries you may have regarding the preparation of your Will.

To discuss making your Will or adding your dog to your Will, please contact our Probate Solicitors in Hartlepool, Stockton, Wynyard or Barnard Castle on 0333 444 4422 or make an online enquiry.