Pets and Wills

A will is not about death. It is about life after death.

Sometimes, our closest friends are our pets. We usually expect to outlive them but what if we go first?

  • Who is going to look after my dog?
  • Who is going to provide for my horse?
  • Can I leave my savings to my cat?

The answer to these questions lies in your will.

The will can be designed especially to help, protect and maintain not just a pet or an animal who survives you but also, in a charitable way, the causes of animals. By leaving a legacy to a charity set up to protect animals you have an efficient tax free method of putting your money to use. Examples are:

  • the Dublin Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals,
  • The Donkey Sanctuary,
  • the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind,
  • the Irish Wildlife Trust,
  • the Irish Blue Cross, or
  • the Irish Equine Centre.

On the other hand, providing for specific animals requires a bit more care. In that case, the will must contain a trust clause. Because a pet can’t open a bank account trustees must be appointed to to do it for them. There should be 2 trustees and, because one assumes the pet to live in Ireland, they should also live in the same jurisdiction. The animal is the object of the trust and this must be clearly stated. The powers of the trustees must also be set out, eg. the power to invest or move money. The source of funds should be identified and the ability to appoint new trustees ought to be included. Some animals live extremely long lives and the trust may have to be able to last. There are also tax considerations and this will depend on the amount of money left in the trust. The management of a trust will involve expense and this will have to be taken into account.

Then, the question is: What happens after the pet dies?

You can see that the exercise can be complicated. A visit to your solicitor is, therefore, recommended

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