In 2019, famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, best known for his involvement with brands such as Fendi and Chanel, passed away leaving a large sum of money, speculated to be around $1.5 million, to his beloved cat!

This opened the discussion of how pet owners can navigate the legal pathways for safeguarding family pets and working animals after the owner’s death and what potential roadblocks they may face.

Should you make a provision in your Will for your pet?

Securing provisions for family pets in your Will is about mapping out your wishes of who you would like care for them after your death and that their well-being has been considered. This process requires balancing their welfare with the legal constraints that dictate their care with the new owner.

Similarly, ensuring that working animals maintain their roles after your passing is paramount if they are central to your business.

These circumstances both apply in the Karl Lagerfeld instance, as not only was his cat a beloved pet, but she can also be considered as a working animal due to her social media presence and following of her own that added to Karl Lagerfelds fortune.

What are the legal restrictions and processes that should be followed?

When writing your Will there are several factors to consider in relation to any family pets or working animals;

  • Ownership Designation – In UK law, pets are regarded as property, meaning unlike humans, they cannot directly inherit anything in your Will. However, specifying a new owner and allocating funds for their care is allowed. The person you nominate to inherit your pet will need to take on the responsibility of the animal’s welfare as well as the financial obligation.
  • Pet Trusts – These can be tailored for both family pets and working animals as pet trusts provide a comprehensive care plan. Such trusts can define caretakers, set care instructions, allocate funding, and incorporate backup plans. Precision is key to ensure these resources are optimally deployed.
  • Extravagant funds might face legal challenges if reasonable provision is not made for certain family members and dependants.
  • Back-up Strategies – Although a chosen new owner for your pet can be identified in your Will, incorporating alternative plans can also be beneficial.
  • Prioritising Animal Welfare – Provisions detrimental to an animal’s health or well-being may not stand in court. The pet’s best interests will remain priority.
  • Frequent Revisions – With evolving laws and changing circumstances, regularly reviewing, and updating your Will where necessary is advisable.
  • Legal Formalities – To authenticate pet-related inclusions, adherence to jurisdictional requirements such as witness presence during will-signing, is still essential.

How we can help:

The team at Backhouse Solicitors can write your Will with our fixed fee Will Writing Service, and they can also provide insights that enable you to structure your Will in a way that preserves your legacy for both family pets and working animals. To contact our friendly experts, use the contact information below and book your free 30-minute consultation.

Tel:          01245 893400
Visit:       17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.