Two thirds of households with dogs or cats regard their furry companions as part of the family1. So if Rufus or Tigger are just as dearly loved as your next of kin, you may want to consider adding them to your Will.
Under Australian Law, domestic pets are considered to be property2. So you can’t leave money or assets to a fur creature, but you can provide for them by allocating them a caregiver in your absence, and covering their expenses in your estate.
Here’s what you need to consider before adding your pet to your Will:
1. Choose a caregiver
It goes without saying, that you need to have a conversation with whoever you choose to allocate as your cat or dog’s legal guardian. Make sure they love (and aren’t allergic to!) your breed of animal, and if you can, have two possible caregivers in case something happens to one of them.
If you don’t have a person you can trust to take care of your loved cat or dog, you can leave them in the care of a charity (such as RSPCA, or an animal adoption agency). If you’re choosing a charity, make sure you contact them first to learn what their specific legacy program involves. This is a very popular option for people who don’t have a caregiver they can trust to ensure the animal is treated well.
Your trustee (or the executor of your Will) will manage the assets you’re allocating to the carer for the costs of your pet, so the next step is to think about how much money you’ll need to leave for their care.
2. Choose an annual budget for their care
When considering an annual budget for your pet’s care, you might want to look at the average annual costs to cover food, vet care, health products, grooming and boarding. You might find the latest stats from MoneySmart3 helpful, but you should also look at the average that you usually spend over the course of a year:
- Dog $1,475
- Cat $1,029
Also consider your pet’s lifespan. An indoor domestic cat can live up to 18 years, but on average they live up to the age of 13. An average dog’s lifespan is a little shorter, just 10-13 years.
So when you’re allocating funds in your estate, look at your annual costs for your pooch or puddha, and multiply them by the number of years your animal may have left to live.
Find a good lawyer or legal specialist to look over your Will, and ensure you’ve included all the relevant information and documentation. And sleep well, knowing that your furry friend will be cared for if anything should happen to you.
1 https://www.canstar.com.au/pet-insurance/how-much-do-we-spend-on-our-pets/ Accessed 14 August 2019.
2 https://www.lawsociety.com.au/sites/default/files/2018-04/PETS%20%26%20WILLS.pdf Accessed 14 August 2019.
3 http://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/report/ Accessed 14 August 2019.