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21 November 2022

It Depends – What will happen with my pet if I die?

In this week’s edition of ‘It depends’, associate Sarah Camm talks about what's going to happen to your pet if you die.

In this week’s edition of ‘It depends’, associate Sarah Camm talks about what’s going to happen to your pet if you die.


Hi and welcome to this week’s session of It Depends. My name is Sarah Camm and I’m an associate in the private clients team here at Cooper Grace Ward. This week, we’re going to be talking about what’s going to happen to your pet if you die.

Can I nominate a particular person to look after my pet?

Absolutely. But it’s dealt with a little bit differently to how you would appoint, say, a guardian for your child. In the eyes of the law, pets are considered property and so they will go to whoever you nominate in your Will. If you want a particular person to look after your fluffiest little family member, you’ll need to make sure you gift your pet to that person specifically.

What if I get another pet in the future?

It depends. And it depends on how the clause is drafted in your Will. For example, if your Will says “I want my miniature schnauzer named Montgomery to go to my sister” and then you later get a pet parrot named Pete, the clause in the Will doesn’t really cover what’s going to happen to Pete in the future. So, you should update your Will if you have specific wishes for Pete’s future care or otherwise, Pete will go to the residuary beneficiary.

Can I leave a gift to my pet?

No, unfortunately, your pet can’t receive your bank account and probably can’t be registered on title to your property either. However, there are ways of making sure that you’re leaving property for the benefit of your best little mate.

Who should I gift property to instead?

Well, it depends. If you’re like me and you just have one spoiled pup with three drawers in your cupboard dedicated towards their clothes and toys, you might gift the contents of those drawers and a sum of cash to the person that you’re planning to receive your pet. You could leave a letter of direction that explains how you’d like them to spend the money, which vet or day care your pet goes to, what their favourite type of bully stick is and how many cuddles they should receive per day. Those wishes aren’t going to be binding, but they’ll provide some guidance and hopefully some consistency for your pet. If you have a few pets and you want different people to look after their care compared to the finances, you might wish to set up a trust in your will and the drafting of that can make sure that funds are available for their care for many years to come.

What if I lose capacity to look after my pet?

A well drafted Enduring Power of Attorney can make sure that your wishes are clear about who’s to look after your pet. We can also include directions about regular visits and how much money the attorney is authorised to spend on doggy day care and pampering. Importantly, you should speak with the people that you’re looking to have look after your pet. It’s important that they are happy to take on the responsibility of looking after your best little mate. Our pets love us unconditionally, and they can’t plan for a time when we might not be around to look after them. Speaking with one of our lawyers might give you peace of mind that your little one will be looked after for many years to come.

To make an appointment, contact a member of our private clients team today.

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This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on arising from this publication, please let us know.

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