Caring for your pets is one of the most important and rewarding things you can do. For many people, a pet is like an extra family member, and they mean a lot to them personally. There’s a huge amount of responsibility in being a pet owner (or a pet parent!) that covers absolutely every aspect of their life. You don’t just play with the family dog on the weekend; you make serious choices and decisions about their health and wellbeing, you monitor their behaviour and you do your best to keep them happy, fit and comfortable.
We know that there are a range of options to help you do this; from dietary specialists to veterinarians, from pet health insurance to groomers. But there is another element that often goes overlooked, and it could be one of the most important tasks you do to ensure your pet’s quality of life.
Looking after your pet in your Will
What happens to your pet if you pass away? We know that’s not a fun thing to think about, and it’s certainly not something you want to discuss every day. But it is important, because if your pet’s wellbeing matters to you now, it’s always going to be a priority, and you want to ensure their quality of life no matter what might be around the corner. Looking after your pet does mean having a plan in place in case the worst thing happens, so that they will receive the best care possible, with a loving home and a loving family looking after their needs.
Ideally, your Will is going to be the place where you decide who will be the pet’s carer, how and where they’ll be looked after, and how you’ll assign funds from your estate to ensure their health and safety. Writing your Will means thinking about those elements and doing your best to keep everything as straightforward as possible.
Unfortunately, no - your pet can’t be a beneficiary
This is something that does come up a lot; can your pet be a beneficiary in your Will? That is, can your pet actually inherit any of your estate? In Australia unfortunately, the answer is going to be no. Your pet is considered property, or an asset almost. We know that they’re family; but in the eyes of the law, they need to be left to a human beneficiary who can step up and be their new parent.
It’s a good idea to identify who you want that person to be, and to start having those conversations as early as possible. The carer you choose for your pet should have a good relationship with them already, and they should understand your values and priorities and what you want for your pet in the event of your death. Choosing someone who is comfortable taking on that responsibility and talking it through will save a lot of hassle and trouble down the track, and it will go a long way to looking after your pet.