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Making a will protects your precious pets

You may hate the idea of being separated from your fur baby, but it's important to have a plan in place if they outlive you.

  • News
  • Read Time: 5 mins

It’s a difficult and confronting thought: that our pets may outlive us and someone else will need to care for them.

If you don’t have a will, the future of your pets is uncertain. They may end up under the care of your family or friends, but it’s not uncommon for them to go to a boarding kennel or animal-rescue centre.

Animals have a big capacity for attachment and grief, and the adjustment your pet will need to make after your death will be considerable.

That may also apply if you move into aged care, where looking after a pet can be too onerous.

The best option would be to rehome them with a relative or friend with whom they already have a relationship.

If this applies, it’s a matter of ensuring your friend is willing and able to take on this commitment.

An option is to “gift” the pet to a trusted person, and although this is an informal arrangement, you can ensure they are provided with sufficient funds to cover the cost of the animal’s care.

Writing a will

Clearly stating your wishes in a legal document, such as a will, can make a big difference as to whether your pets continue to receive the care, love, and attention they deserve.

You can’t name your pet as a beneficiary. While it is permissible in other places, leaving your estate directly to your pet, with a trustee overseeing their well-being, is not allowed in Australia.

As a result, you need to treat your pets as assets subject to appropriate distribution.

In your will, you can specify how your pets should be cared for after you die.

Veterinarian and pet blogger, Dr Rosemary Elliot, suggests drawing up a comprehensive guide on caring for your pet that can be passed on to its new owner.

This guide can include basic details such as your pets’ preferred food choices, as well as contact information for your vet and pet groomer. Her full list is here.

Legacy programs

Another option is to choose a legacy program run by an animal welfare charity that will either find a home for your pet or care for them in a facility in return for a financial legacy.

The pet needs to be accepted into one of these programs before the owner dies.

An example of this is the RSPCA’s Home Ever After program.

Related reading: Aged Care Guide 


John Austin

John Austin

Policy and Communications Officer

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