Your pets may seem like part of the family to you, but the law does not view things in the same way. In legal terms, your dog or cat is no different from your sofa or car. They cannot inherit.
So if you were hoping to leave everything to Polly the poodle rather than Jack and Sarah, your children, think again.
Does that mean your pet will be left to fend for itself when you die?
Not quite. While you cannot pass assets directly to your pet, you can set up a pet trust and place assets in it on behalf of your pet.
What is the use in that you might think? After all, your poodle cannot go to the bank and withdraw any money provided by a trust. Here is how it will work: You create and fund the pet trust and set instructions as to who receives that money and what pet-related things they use it for.
How can I be sure the money will be spent on my dog?
You can never be entirely sure the person you designate to receive the money on your pet’s behalf will use it in the way you intended. Yet you can set up some safeguards. For example, you can set up the trust to release only a specific amount each month. You can also insist the person in charge of the dog, or receiving the money for the dog, has to send evidence to the trustees to show they are using the money properly.
It is almost impossible to guarantee your pet will be cared for in exactly the way you wish when you are gone. However, by carefully choosing who you want to take care of the pet and putting all relevant details in your estate plan, you can do the best you can to reward the love and affection your pet has shown you over the years.