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What happens to your pets when you die

Our furry friends are more than just pets. They are cherished members of our families. Ensuring their well-being becomes a significant concern as we think about the future.

<p>We hate to wish our pets farewell, but it helps to have a plan in place when it is our time to go. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

We hate to wish our pets farewell, but it helps to have a plan in place when it is our time to go. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Pets are cherished family members and their well-being is a significant concern for the future
  • A legally sound will is crucial for ensuring clear instructions on the care of pets after the owner’s passing
  • Without a will, pets may end up in temporary facilities or rescue centres, causing distress

Our furry friends are more than just pets. They are cherished members of our families. Ensuring their well-being becomes a significant concern as we think about the future.

Expressing these concerns for their future requires careful planning. Clearly stating your wishes in a legal document, such as a will, can make all the difference in whether your pets continue to receive the care, love and attention they deserve or face the uncertainty of adoption or placement with organisations like the RSPCA after your passing. It’s crucial to secure the well-being of your pets in case the unexpected happens.

If you don’t have a will, the responsibility for your pets may fall to your friends, family or designated guardians. Without clear instructions, your pets might end up in temporary boarding facilities or rescue centres.

The absence of these protections can be a significant source of worry. Life’s uncertainties make it essential to have proper documentation in place to prevent unnecessary distress for your pets if you pass away unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, you can’t name your pet as a beneficiary. In Australia, leaving your estate directly to your pet, with a trustee overseeing their well-being, is not allowed. While this might be an option in other places, it’s not legally permissible in Australia. As a result, your plans need to treat pets as assets subject to appropriate distribution.

In your will, you can specify how your assets, including your pets, should be handled after your passing. This gives you some control over their future care. Detailing these arrangements in your will and coordinating with the chosen beneficiary can ensure a smooth transition of care for your beloved pet.

Creating your will

If you unexpectedly pass away without a will, managing your estate can become a challenging task for someone else. In Australia, pets are legally considered property, and designating a beneficiary for their care becomes crucial. While they are treated as property, provisions can be made to outline their care, health and living arrangements. 

It’s vital to choose a beneficiary who not only feels comfortable with animals but also possesses the nurturing spirit necessary to care for them. While your will can provide directions for your pet’s future, choosing a suitable home for them is of utmost importance.

Consider setting aside resources and finances to ensure the best possible care for your pet. This will cover veterinary bills, necessary expenses and treatments, lessening the financial burden on the beneficiaries responsible for their well-being.

Beyond legalities

Providing a comprehensive guide on caring for your pet is also advisable. You have intimate knowledge of your pet’s preferences and needs and passing on this information to the beneficiary can make their caregiving responsibilities easier. This guide can include basic details like preferred food choices, as well as contact information for your preferred veterinary providers and groomers.

Ultimately, meticulous planning contributes to a greater sense of assurance. While it’s impossible to account for every scenario, expressing your intentions to the best of your ability and having a legally sound will in place can provide peace of mind. 

Taking care of every family member, especially those unable to fend for themselves, is a responsible and ethical obligation. Treating your family pet as a legal priority is a conscientious choice.

Have you got your will organised with your pet in mind?
Let the team at Talking Aged Care know and subscribe to the newsletter for more information, news and industry updates.

Related content:

Can my pet live with me in aged care?

The benefits of pet therapy

How to make a roadtrip with your pet a success

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