by Kelsey Leahy

To many, pets are considered part of the family. So it is not surprising that people wish to include their pet in their will. Regardless of whether you discuss with your family what happens to your pet after you die, you should always include those instructions in your will.

Pet as a beneficiary

A pet cannot be listed as a beneficiary of your estate. What this means, is that you are unable to leave anything (i.e. money or property) to your pet, as they are incapable of inheriting the gift. Although pets are not recognised as beneficiaries, they can be adequately provided for in the event of your passing.

Gift your pet to a beneficiary

In Australia, pets are deemed as property, and like other property, you are able to gift your pet to someone in your will.

When leaving your pet to a beneficiary under your will, you are also able to leave money to that particular beneficiary to use for the care and maintenance of the pet during its lifetime. This is quite popular as it alleviates the financial burden that can be placed on a beneficiary inheriting a new pet.

You should always discuss this option with the person you intend to leave your pet with before you have your will drafted, as it is important to remember that the person is entitled to decline the gift.

Pet Legacy Program

If you do not want to leave your pet to a beneficiary, you can seek out legacy programs in your local area. Charities such as the RSPCA have a pet legacy program. The program ensures that at the time of your passing your pet will be cared for until the RSPCA are able to appropriately rehome the animal. To participate in the program, you must leave a donation to the RSPCA.

Should you wish to include your pet in your will, you should consult with a solicitor to discuss the best option for you. The solicitor will ensure all avenues are covered, such as what happens if the beneficiary who you leave your pet to is unable to care for the pet at the time of your passing. BELAW offers affordable fixed fee estate planning packages. Contact the office on 07 4051 5388 to book your consultation or find out more.