Making arrangements for your beloved pets

In her latest blog, senior private client solicitor Lisa Lodge reminds us about making arrangements for our furry friends.

What will happen to fluffy and fido?

They can be just as important to us as family members, and for some people they really are their best friend.

But how do you ensure your pets are looked after and loved when you can no longer care for them?

This came up last week, and is one of the most common questions I get asked, as clients can often be really worried about what they can do for their fluffy friends.
Many people assume a friend or family member will step in to look after their pet after their death, but we know from bitter experience this will not always play out the way people hope.  When it comes to residential care, many people believe their pet will be able to go with them. But that’s not always the case, in fact few homes can accommodate pets, particularly if the resident has limited ability to care for the pet themselves.

It is possible to make arrangements for the pet in a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and make sure they are protected.   It must be made clear to the Executor of your Will or the Attorney appointed in the LPA what your wishes are. They are then obligated to carry those out. This can prove tricky though.
One recent client had a big problem in that her husband didn’t like her cats and she knew he would not want to look after them after her death.
My advice was that she needed to establish a legacy in her Will which would take priority over all other provisions – i.e. something that would have to be done first before any other aspects of her estate dealt with.

The legacy instructs that the Executor should find a cat charity to find them a good and loving home, upon which the charity would receive a donation to their coffers. The Executor would have a responsibility to choose the charity and approve the home, before the monetary legacy would be released.
The advice also included the suggestion the client appoint an Executor whose opinion she would trust in this important task and perhaps choose a friend, a fellow cat lover, rather than her husband for this.

I have also had some tough decisions to make as a professional executor regarding pets, generally when no provision has been made in the Will.
Obviously pets have immediate needs so decisions need to be made quickly. Luckily we have excellent local connections and charities we work with, so we can sort foster care and re-homing if needed.

When preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney, it is possible to make a similar provision for the care of pets should you become incapacitated due to accident or illness.  As we have a branch network across Lancashire, we work with charities in all parts of the county, including those smaller organisations which often get overlooked but do a great job in rehoming much-loved pets. We also recommend these groups to animal lovers who wish to leave a legacy in their Will, as the money will be very much appreciated and put to work directly.

For advice on how to protect your pets, or to support an animal charity with a legacy in your Will, contact our experienced, professional and supportive private client team on 01772 555 176.