What Happens to My Pets if I Die?

November 03, 2014
Monique Hayes

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Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with about 63% of households owning pets. Astoundingly, there are estimated to be 33 million pets in Australia, so they outnumber people in this country.

Most Australians who own a pet consider them to be members of the family – so it is important to make sure your pet is looked after when you die.

There are a number of options for providing for your pet in your Will, including:

  • Friend - Leaving a gift to a trusted friend with a non-binding request that they care for your pet.
  • Charity - Leaving a gift to an animal charity that operates a pet legacy program. A pet legacy program involves you leaving a gift of money to an animal charity in exchange for the charity caring for or re-housing your pet.
  • Trust – Setting up a trust for the care and maintenance of your pet and choosing a trustee who is willing to carry out the terms of the trust.
  • Euthanasia - Some people do not want their pets to suffer or become distressed by a sudden separation from their owner and accordingly prefer for their pet to be euthanised.

Whichever option you choose for your furry, fluffy or feathery friend, it is important to consider:

  • How long is your pet likely to live?
  • What are the needs of your pet? Do they need a large yard to run around or a small cage?
  • What are the costs involved to care for your pet? For example food, veterinary care, grooming and toys.
  • Who will care for your pet? Is the nominated person dependable? Do they have the skill, care and attention required to care for your pet?

Research has shown that owing a pet has a number of physical and health benefits. For example, pet owners are able to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-pet owners; and believe it or not, heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without. Given the enormous benefits that our pets give us, it is important to look after them if we die.

If you do not have a Will or would like to update your current Will to ensure it includes provisions for your pet, contact Monique Hayes from our Estate Planning Team today.

Monique Hayes

Southern Waters Legal

(02) 9523 5535

monique@southernwaters.com.au