Tasmania’s Public Trustee has used world animal day to get Tasmanians thinking about pet care planning

World Animal Day, it’s a good time to think about what might happen to your pet if you were unable to look after it.

The last thing many pet owners want is for their passing to leave their four-legged friends without a leg to stand on.

Australians have the highest ownership of pets per household in the world but too many don’t plan for what will happen to their furry friends in the event something happens to them.

While pets may be part of the family, by law they are classified as property. Therefore you can state in your Will how your pet is to be cared for.

For peace of mind and your pet’s wellbeing it’s a good idea to have a pet care plan as part of your Will and share it widely. The plan should outline how you would like your pet to be cared for, who you want to care for your pet and how you intend to pay for the care of your pet. The plan should also include things like dietary restrictions, favourite toys and any other issues.

If you don’t make provisions under your Will the residuary beneficiary will inherit your pet. If you don’t have a valid Will when you die your pet will go to your next of kin.

There are a few options to consider to ensure your pet receives the best care possible.

You can leave an amount of money to a friend or relative with a request that they look after your pet. We recommend talking to the nominated person to ensure they are happy to take on the responsibility.

You could gift money to an animal charity to either re-home your pet or to place them in a facility that the charity operates. We recommend contacting the charity to discuss this and organise a visit to ensure that your pet would be happy with the accommodation.

You can set up a trust under your Will for the care of your pet. Though a trust for an animal is a non-binding direction made to the trustee of the Will, therefore your pet’s trust will not be enforced if the trustee is not willing to take on the role.

In order to set funds aside for your pet’s care you will need to estimate how much it will cost to look after your pet for the rest of its life, including costs like food, veterinary expenses, grooming and toys.

You also need to consider if your pet dies and there are unspent funds, what should happen to those funds.

Most importantly, whatever you decide regarding the care of your pet, you should make your wishes known in your Will.

For more information call the Public Trustee on 1800 068 784 or visit https://www.publictrustee.tas.gov.au/news/your-pet-and-your-will/

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