Plan ahead to ensure your pets are cared for after your death

By Robert Lamb, Director & Caitlyn Wessels, Graduate Law Clerk at Hillhouse Legal Partners
| 3 min. read

Key takeaways

  • Although most people see their pets as part of the family, pets are legally property and should be included in a Will. 
  • Usually pets will be inherited by the residuary beneficiary of their owner’s Will or by the next of kin, when there is no Will.
  • If there is no one who can take on the care of your pets after your death, some charities run programs that rehome pets after their owner’s death. 

Most people see their pets as part of the family but when it comes to the legalities of ensuring they are well cared for after your death, legally pets are property.

Usually pets will be inherited by the residuary beneficiary of their owner’s Will or by the next of kin when there is no Will.

To ensure that your pets are properly cared for after your death, you should consider the following possibilities: 

  • Gift your pets to a specific person with a non-binding statement of wishes for your pets. This list may include details of your pets’ medical conditions, temperament, dietary restrictions, favourite toys, favourite places and/or walk schedules.
  • Gift your pets to a specific person with a sum of money or establish a trust under your Will to ensure there is sufficient money for your pets’ lifetime needs such as accommodation, food and vet bills.
  • Of course, you should contact the person you are considering naming to inherit your pets and ensure they want to take care of them and would be able to undertake that care as you would want.
  • If there is no one who can take on the care of your pets after your death, some charities such as the RSPCA run programs that rehome pets after their owner’s death.  If you choose this as an option, it is usual to leave a sum of money to the charity that undertakes this service. 
  • You may also wish to leave a contact list of people such as neighbours or friends who can access your pets in an emergency. You should also tell your attorney under your Power of Attorney how your pets should be cared for if you are not be able to do it.

If you need any advice on preparing  your Will, the expert team at Hillhouse Legal Partners is available to help. Contact your usual Hillhouse Legal Partners expert on 07 32201144 or at [email protected].

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.