Our pets are more than just cats and dogs; they’re closer to family members,and their wellbeing is naturally going to be a priority for every one of us.However, being concerned for their future means planning for it. Setting downyour wishes in a legal Will can mean the difference between your pets beingcared for, loved and looked after, or being given up for adoption or to theRSPCA. If you pass away, you want to have the security of your pets locked in.

Without a Will, your pets will be transferred into the care of your friends,family, and guardians. In these cases, it is not uncommon for pets to be sentto a boarding facility or rescue facility if they have not been accounted forin your Will.

It’s a huge worry, if you don’t have these steps covered. Unfortunately, lifecan be unpredictable, and if the worst happens, your pets could sufferunnecessarily without documentation created and signed off.

Unfortunately – no, your pet cannot be a beneficiary

In Australia, you are not able to leave your estate to your pet as abeneficiary, with a trustee to take care of them. Although this sounds like agreat option in other locations, it’s simply not possible. This means thatyour plans must treat them as an asset, and distribute them accordingly.

In your Will, you can determine the ways in which your assets are managedafter you’re gone, which does give you some control over how your pet is caredfor. You can set this out in your Will, and organise it with the beneficiarywho will “inherit” your pet.

Organising your will

If you die suddenly and unexpectedly without a Will, it may be difficult forsomeone to manage your estate, so you need to make sure it is protected beforeyou are gone. In Australia, a pet is considered to be property, and thereforemust be assigned to a beneficiary to care for. However, you can makeprovisions for the way in which they are looked after, and their health andhome.

An important step is to ensure that the beneficiary you are leaving your petto is comfortable with animals and shows the right nurturing spirit in takingthem in. While your Will can provide for a pet and ensure they go to the rightplace, choosing their new home is the most important part.

You should also consider setting aside resources and money that will allowyour beneficiary to provide the best possible care for your pet. This willensure that veterinary bills, expenses and treatments are covered, and can gosome of the way towards defraying the cost of their food and board.

Beyond the legalities

It’s also a good idea to leave behind as much of a guide to caring for yourpet as you can. You know them better than anyone, and you know how to lookafter them. If you can give your beneficiary that information, it will helpthem to do the job they’ve agreed in taking your pet in, and it will help yourpet to continue to be happily loved and seen to after you pass away. On abasic level, this can be a guide to the food they like to eat, but it couldalso include lists of your preferred veterinary providers and groomers.

Ultimately, the more you plan, the better you’ll feel

While it’s impossible to plan for everything, as long as you have set out yourintentions to the best of your abilities, and as long as you have a legalWill, you can sleep soundly. Every family is different, but caring for everyfamily member is your responsibility, particularly when they aren’t able tocare for themselves. Treating your family pet as a legal priority is the rightthing to do.

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