This weekend, on Saturday the 26th of August we celebrate National Dog Day 2023. Dogs really are a person’s best friend, offering us the upmost companionship.

Our four-legged friends have been proven to reduce stress levels, as well as anxiety and depression. They also encourage us to be more active and as a result, help us lead happier lives.

With all of this considered, we understand why losing your companion can be a very sad experience. When that initial sadness begins to pass, we are left with all the happy memories they gave us. But what happens if we go before our dogs? What do we leave them with?

Well, in 2019 when creative director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld passed away he famously bequeathed his multi-million-pound fortune to his cat Choupette.

There are a couple issues with doing this though, if you are considering it. Mainly that most of us don’t have a multi-million-pound fortune to gift our beloved pet. But most importantly because legally in England and Wales we cannot leave any of our assets to our pets, as they are classed as personal property.

This would mean that if you do decide to leave money to your pet in your will, the gift will fail and the money or asset will fall into your residuary estate instead.

So, what can we do for our pets after we pass away? The kindest thing you can do for your pet in the event of your death, is making sure that you have an up to date will, which has considered provisions for them.

How Do We Do This?

Firstly, it is important to consider who you trust and would be happy to take over ownership of your pet after you pass away.

If you have a specific person in mind, you can name them in your will and state that you are gifting them your pet.

After this, it is important to name a substitute beneficiary in your will. This is a backup plan, which means that if the first person you have named is unable or unwilling to take on your pet, then they can go to another one of your choices. This reduces the risk of your beloved pet ending up in a shelter, or even being euthanised.

Alternatively, if you have no one to take over the responsibility of your pet, you can request to leave them to an animal charity, such as Dogs Trust, or the RSPCA.

If the beneficiary you have chosen would be financially strained by taking over ownership of your pet, you can gift them a cash sum in your will, which can go to cover the cost of pet care. Including, food, medical bills and insurance.

Alternatively, you can establish a ‘pet trust’ in your will, which is a safer way of assuring the money is used correctly. This is advised as otherwise any requests about your pets care won’t be viewed as legally binding.

This is where your solicitor will be looking out for you, as they will carefully word the clause to ensure that the beneficiary only receives the cash left in your will, if they do agree to look after your pet.

It is very important to consider the beneficiary you name, before doing so. This is where your solicitor can help you out again, as they will advise you on how to do this.

For example, it is advised that you speak to your intended beneficiary before you name them in your will. This will hopefully ensure that they don’t refuse responsibility of your pet, in the event of your death.

Your solicitor may also discuss the possibility of future pets and where you wish for them to go.

If you would like to make a will that protects all your loved ones including your furry companion, call us on 0800 0523 693, or contact us by email.