Kith & Kin

What happens to your pets when you die?

sad dog on the floor after pet owner died without will

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

As a pet owner, it is likely that you not expecting for your beloved pet to outlive you. But what happens if you suddenly meet your demise? Who will take care of your beloved dog or cat? How do you write a will and testament that includes your pets’ welfare?

They may be greatly loved but their relatively shorter life span is one cause for them to be overlooked in will writing and estate planning. Furthermore, in most countries, they are considered as property, which means they cannot inherit any of your assets.

To make sure that your pets are still provided for after your death, consider the following when planning your estate:

1. Choose the new pet owner who will look after your pet

There are several factors to consider when it comes to selecting the new pet owner for your animal friends. It is important to consider the needs of your pet as well as the ability of your beneficiary to take on the challenges of pet care.

In Singapore, there are some restrictions and guidelines when it comes to pet ownership. For example, cats are prohibited in HDB flats while only a maximum of 3 dogs is allowed for private premises. The new pet owner should be able to comply with these rules and other pet licensing regulations by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

2. Obtain an informal agreement

After selecting the person to take care of your pet upon your death, you can then go ahead and ask them to do the task when the time comes. This setup works well only if the new pet owner you have chosen is trustworthy and responsible because an informal agreement offers the least amount of protection. You can only hope that your instructions are carried out upon your death.

3. Add provisions for pet care in your will

Will writing in Singapore allows you to add conditions to your will, you just have to ensure the validity of such conditions for them to be enforced upon your death.

How do you write a will and testament that includes pet care?

By writing a will, you can specify that you would like for your pet to be gifted to a specific person. If you will be leaving funds for pet care, it is important to accurately draft your will in such a way that the cash gift would only apply if the beneficiary agrees to take care of your pet.

Make sure that your will also accommodates the needs of all the pets you have at the time of your death, as you may have a different number of pets at the time of will writing.

With all these considerations you may find yourself asking whether do I need a lawyer to write a will’, or searching online to discover ‘how to write my own will’. While it is not necessary to enlist the help of a lawyer, they can provide valuable legal insights, especially if you wish to include conditions in your will.

4. Establish a pet trust

As with any other types of trust, a pet trust is created for a specific purpose. In this case, it is for pet care.

You can assign a caregiver to take care of your pet, a trustee to manage the funds, and the beneficiary to the trust(your pet). To fund the trust, you can transfer assets to in the trust’s name.

5. Write a letter of instruction along with your will writing

A letter of instruction or letter of wishes is an estate planning device designed to work together with your will, trusts, and other devices. They do not necessarily have to meet any legal requirements and are generally meant to provide informal instructions, information or wishes.

You could use this device to help explain exactly how to care for your pet: food preferences, exercise needs, and other quirks of your pet that may be helpful for the new pet owner. Bear in mind though that letters of instruction are not binding, and they cannot be used to allocate funds for pet care. It would be best to use them jointly with other estate planning tools.

Estate planning should not leave any loved one behind, not even pets. As a pet owner, you want to make sure that your furry and non-furry friends are cared for upon your death.

With the options above, you can now choose the options best suited for you and your pets’ situation. You may also consider how to find an executor for your will. As a pet owner, knowing how do you write a will and testament that includes pet care will certainly offer peace of mind.

Here at Kith & Kin Law Corporation, we offer expert advice on Will Writing Singapore with the conviction to provide the best approach based on our client’s personal circumstances and needs.

If you would like further assistance in estate planning for pets, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.