Pets and Wills: Getting a new fur-addition to the family?

By Brianna Craggs, Legal Assistant

Providing for your pets is an important consideration when preparing your Will. Many people see pets as a part of the family and want them to be looked after when they are gone.

A year ago, I decided to add two new furry additions to my family: two mini Dachshund’s named Milo and Jasper. Pets depend on their owner to love them unconditionally and most importantly provide them with food and shelter. Recently I have started to consider where my puppies would go if something were to happen to me. Personally, I don’t want to leave things to chance and I want my dogs to go to a specific person who will care for them the way I do. This involves dressing them up in cute outfits and doing photos shoots.

Things you should know

Australia has one of the highest rates of domestic pet ownership compared to other countries. 60% of owners consider their pet as a member of their family. [1]

Pets lack the ability to make legal decisions for themselves which is why they are considered personal property. If your pets are not included in your Will, they will go to your next of kin. In circumstances where a next of kin is absent, it is unknown where your pets may end up. In the unfortunate event something does happen to you, your pets won’t be prioritised and may be left alone for days on end.

Things to think about

When turning your mind to your pets, think about who you would like to take care of them in a worst-case scenario. You may consider donating your pets to a charitable organisation of your choice such as; RSPCA, Animals Australia or Pet Rescue. This way you will know they will be loved and cared for. If you also choose to leave a financial gift to a charitable organisation, you must be aware of succession law family provisions which vary in different States and Territories in Australia. These provisions allow a spouse, family member or dependant to make a claim on your Estate which may override your charitable gift in your Will. A real-life example of this scenario is seen in Marshall v Reford. In this case the deceased left the whole of their Estate to NSW RSPCA which was then challenged by the deceased’s family. This reduced the gift to the RSPCA by 60%.

What you should consider doing

In your will, it may be suitable to add a special provision just for your pets. Inclusions of special provisions may be:

  • Gifting your pets to a person. Assuming you gift your pet to a person, you may consider establishing a trust where a trustee holds funds for the benefit of your pet’s remaining life.

  • Gifting your pet to a charitable organisation of your choice as mentioned above.

  • Gifting money to someone to care for your pets.

  • A budget plan for your pets which can include; food, treats, vet costs and additional costs you are currently covering for your pets.

  • Any other provisions you believe are necessary.

If you are concerned about the care of your pets, feel free to contact us to ensure they are taken care of by someone who loves them. We offer a no obligation free appointment.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, contact us today!

Phone: 1800 22 33 90


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References [1] University of Melbourne,