What will happen to my pets when I die?

May 3, 2017

Whether its cats, dogs, budgies, rabbits, goldfish, ferrets, hamsters or reptiles, one thing is for certain – in the UK we love our pets. In fact it is estimated that 46% of all households in the UK own pets with the number of animals living under our chimney pots said to be around 65 million strong.

While in the past pets would lead relatively brief lives when compared with their owners, today our pets can live much longer, helped on by advances in veterinary care and nutrition. With this in mind it is now not unheard of for our pets to outlive us, so it is important that we have plans in place for their care should the unthinkable happen.  For many of us, our pets are like our children and as such we want to know that when we die they will not go hungry and will have the opportunity to be happy again in a new, loving home.

Despite the importance of making provisions for our pets an incredible 70,000 pet owners currently die each year having made no prior arrangements for their pets in their Wills. A Will is very important for many different reasons – it provides you with the opportunity not only to leave behind instructions over what you would like to happen to your estate, including things your physical belongings, property and finances, but also what you would like to happen to your beloved pets.

Including your pet in your Will

If you decide to include your pet in your Will then you can name a beneficiary to look after them, such as a relative who you know is good with pets and would be able to provide them the same love, care and affection that you have given them.

It’s important to speak to the person who you would like to look after your pet before you make a decision on including them in your Will as the beneficiary of your pet or pets. You may find that they either aren’t suitable to look after the pet, or perhaps would prefer not to be given the responsibility.


You might also find that they are concerned about the financial aspect of owning a pet. Pets are not free and can cost their owners lots of money in upkeep. This is why some pet owners decide to specify an amount of money in their Will which will go to the person they give their pet to, to cover the day-to-day ownership costs of food and vet visits.  This can encourage your loved one or friend to consider being a guardian for your pet, and provides you with some peace of mind that their needs will be met after you are gone. You may also put a clause in place that determines that if the guardian decides to give up the pet at any point in the future then it must be taken to an animal welfare charity that will take care of them. This is also a good choice if you do not know of any friends or family that you think would be suitable to look after your pet(s).

For more information on Wills, visit the Wills, Probate and Inheritance section of the gov.uk website – https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance