While there has been a re-think in recent times about the legal status of pets, domestic animals are still considered to be ‘property’ under Australian law. In fact, even the definition of ‘goods’ under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) includes animals.
If you do not make provision for your much-loved pets in your Will, then your Pets will vest in the residual beneficiary under your Will.
Depending on that person’s circumstances, the “gift” of your pets may be considered an imposition to that beneficiary.
Some practical options for you to consider when it comes to leaving your pet to someone, may include:
• Gift your pet to a reliable friend or charity;
• Gift your pet and a sum of money to a reliable friend or charity; or
• Establish a trust in your will where your trustee holds funds to be used for the benefit of a person who has the care of your pet for the duration of the pet’s lifetime.
While you can gift a sum of money to a beneficiary for the purpose of providing care and accommodation to your pet, once the estate is distributed, in practical terms, if will be very difficult to monitor whether that beneficiary is doing the right thing by your pet and enforce the terms of the Will. What the Will does is essentially set out your wishes only as to how your pet is to be cared for. It is not necessarily binding.
To determine a suitable gift of money, you will need to consider the breed of the animal, the estimated life expectancy and medical needs and expenses when it gets older.
You can also create a care plan for your pet and share it with your loved ones. The care plan could include any dietary requirements, your pet’s favourite toys and their temperament, likes and dislikes.
Contact the team at Conditsis Lawyers today on (02) 4324 5688 for all your estate planning needs.