Including pets in your will – Q&A

by | Nov 2, 2021 | Blog Posts

Our Wills and Probate partner, Andrew Milburn, answers questions on including pets in your will.

| How can you include your pet in your will?

A pet is a possession and can be left in your will as any other possession. You can therefore say who you want to give your pet to. You can also make financial provisions for the recipient of the pet so there are some funds to cover the upkeep.

| Do you have to include your pet in your will? What happens if you don’t?

A will should always state what happens to your ‘residuary estate’, meaning what’s left of your estate after specific gifts and expenses are paid out. If you don’t specifically say who is to have your pet, it will be part of your residuary estate. If the beneficiary doesn’t want the animal, the executors will have to work something out. Many animal charities have plans which can be incorporated into wills so it’s worth having a look to see what they can offer.

| Do different animals need different provisions – for instance, hamsters compared to dogs?

It is up to you what provisions you make for your pet, whatever the animal. However, animals that require specialist care (such as reptiles or rare breeds), will take more care and potentially be more expensive to look after than, a hamster for example. You may wish to take this into consideration when including them in your will.

| Do you need to update your will every time you get a new pet?

It depends how you have worded the will. If you say ‘any pet that I own at the date of my death to …’ then there wouldn’t be any need to update the will unless your wishes change.

| Can you leave part of, or even your whole estate to your pet in your will?

I certainly haven’t come across that and wouldn’t advise it! If somebody was thinking of doing that I would explore other options, such as creating a trust where your appointed trustees can use the funds for the benefit of the animal.


If you would like some more information about including pets in your will, we can help. Call us on 0800 988 7756 or make an appointment online.

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