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Do you have a dog? Or maybe a cat? Or perhaps a cranky axolotl named Stanley? If so, you’re one of the 63% of Australians who have a pet at home.
You love, care for, and most likely take an excessive number of photographs of your pet on the regular – but have you thought about what might happen to them if you were to pass away?
Here at Coastal Lawyers, we love our fur children (seriously, all of us have dogs), and so have put together a few tips and tricks for including your beloved pets in your final wishes.
One significant reason a Will is SO important is because it can specifically deal with and manage the situation in which your fur babies outlive you. Like children, our pets cannot care for themselves independently, and thus need some pre-planning to ensure they are taken care of.
Under Australian law, pets are considered property and therefore you’ll need some professional advice as to how you can viably carry out your specific fur-baby wishes. Generally speaking, however, you may wish to:
- Establish a trust for the care and maintenance of your pet;
- Give your pet to a charitable legacy programme to be homed or re-homed;
- Give your pet to a trusted friend or family member; or
- Direct that your pet is euthanised.
We find gifting a beloved pet to a trusted friend or family member is the most common method chosen. This is often coupled with what in legal speak is called a ‘legacy’. This essentially is a sum of money that is attached to a gift and is conditional upon that person accepting care of your pet. We recommend that you discuss this with the carer of your choice first in this instance to ensure they are willing and able to accept such a responsibility – because really, not everyone’s going to want your aging ferret named Madge!
If your pet has specific needs, for instance, your pet has a chronic illness and sees a certain vet, or perhaps your pet is a regular at the groomer – your estate planning lawyer can assist you to detail these in a document called a ‘Memorandum of Wishes’ which is separate to your Will.
Whatever option resonates, it’s also a good idea to leave information about your pet, any vet documents, any details about their health, behaviour, and needs with your Will, and to also ensure that there are sufficient funds or assets left last your pet’s life.
Disclaimer: Because would we even be lawyers without one?
- This article is not legal advice and has been prepared as a resource to assist members of the community and legal profession who wish to have an understanding of a particular area of the law.
- You should always undertake your own research and/or consult with a lawyer to ensure that the information is up to date and relevant to your case.
- In addition, the blog post refers to the law as current at a particular date. The law is changing regularly and accordingly, you should always refer to the legislation applicable at the time .
IS YOUR ESTATE PLANNING IN ORDER?
Coastal Lawyers can assist you with all your estate planning needs. What exactly is estate planning? Think wills, power of attorney and enduring guardianships. Not exactly sure what any of this means, or why it is so important? Then book in a free 15 minutes discovery call with our dedicated estate planning lawyer Olivia, who can explain estate planning in simple language and provide you with a fixed fee quote to get you on your way to having peace of mind that your estate planning is in order.
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