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Can I leave leave money or property to my pet when I die?

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Published 15/07/2021
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One of the final demonstrations of love that we can make as we depart this life is to leave money, property or even treasured possessions to our loved ones in a Will. But what if that loved one is a pet?

We’ve talked before in our blogs about how a beloved pet can be as much a part of the family as any human, and we have even answered the question ‘Can I have a funeral for my pet?’, but can we actually leave them something in our Will?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. In the context of your Will, a pet is considered property, and as such you can not leave a sum of money or anything else directly to your pet. However, there is a way around this and that is to name a person to leave the money in trust. For example if your pet is going to live with and be looked after by your spouse when you die, then you can leave a sum of money to that person with the instruction that it is to be used to care for your pet. You can even leave a Letter of Wishes that more closely describes how you want the pet to be cared for and what the money can be spent on.

Celebrities that have left a legacy to their pet

It is probably of no surprise that the more wealthy and eccentric members of society might choose to leave a legacy to their pet, and in some cases a literal fortune. Mirror.co.uk journalist Jack Colwill writes of several celebrities that have chosen pets over people when it comes to writing their will.

Ben Rea was a British antiques dealer who, when he passed away in 1988, left around £7 million to three different animal charities on the instruction that they make sure his cat was well looked after. Incidentally Mr Rea also left some money to his gardener, his mechanic and his plumber, but nothing to his family.

One of the most famous celebrity pets of all time was Bubbles, the chimpanzee companion of Michael Jackson. Approximately £1.4 million was to go to the chimp on Michael’s passing, presumably in trust of the Center For Great Apes where Bubbles now resides.

Read more from Jack’s article here.
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