Including pets in wills: legal expert on everything you need to know

Our pets are family, so it’s no surprise an increasing number of us are seeking legal advice about including pets in wills.

Keep reading for expert legal advice about leaving pets in wills, including finding a caregiver for your pet and financial support.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Though it’s a topic not many people like to talk or think about, it’s vital to plan ahead to make sure pets aren’t squabbled over by grieving family members or simply given away.

“Including your pet in your will is not just a legal formality—it’s a way of making sure they are treated exactly how you’d want and given as much consideration as possible,” says expert family lawyer Michael Tiyce of Tiyce & Lawyers.

“Over 60 per cent of Australian households have a pet and yet so often they go completely unconsidered, no longer given the care we would want when we’re unable to be there ourselves.”

Man and woman in office with white poodle for Animal Friendly Life article on including pets in Wills and everything to know about caring for pets after the owner's death
More owners are seeking legal advice on arranging care for their beloved pet after they pass away (image: Canva)

So exactly what can be done for pets after an owner passes? Here is Michael’s advice and top tips to put your pets in the best position in the will.

It’s crucial to appoint a caregiver who is willing and able to provide a loving home for your pet. Selecting someone you trust should be the first step of including pets in a will. Choose someone who has a genuine affection for your pet and who understands their needs and preferences is paramount. Also, have open and honest discussions with the caregiver to ensure they are prepared for the responsibility.

It’s important to consider your ability to provide financial support to the caregiver for the pet’s ongoing care. Leaving a specific sum of money in your will to cover expenses such as veterinary care, food, grooming, and any other necessities truly goes a long way and ensures that your pet will continue to receive the care they need without placing a financial burden on their caregiver.

Detail is key when considering your pet in your will. Leaving specific instructions regarding your pet’s ongoing care is extremely important. Daily routines, dietary requirements, medical history, and any other relevant information will help their caregiver provide the best possible care. It’s also important to outline contingency plans in case the appointed caregiver is unable to fulfil their duties.

Navigating the complexities of including your pet in your will can be daunting. But, seeking legal advice can provide much-needed clarity and peace of mind. Consulting with an experienced lawyer ensures that your wishes are accurately reflected in your will. It also ensures that your pet’s future is secure.

Considering your pet in your will is something many want to do but don’t understand how. Many owners also don’t know exactly what options are available to them under Australian Law. Following the above steps helps ensure the ongoing care of your pet if you aren’t there to do it.