Estate Planning and your pets

Estate Planning and your pets

We were pleased to be joined today by a new team member, ‘Bear’ the office labrador. While Bear is not necessarily the most productive staff member at Ballantyne Law Group, he is the most popular. Bear’s visit got us thinking about the importance of pets in our lives, and how through proper estate planning we can ensure that they are looked after when we die.

About 65% of Australian households own one or more pets, and Australians spent more than $12 billion on pet products and services last year. 

But what happens to these important family members when you die or are unable to look after them yourself?  Unfortunately, not enough of us think about our pets when we are making our estate plans, or if we do, we don’t understand how the law works in this area.  As with all aspects of estate planning, speaking to a professional who practices in this area will help your loved ones avoid additional heartache after you have gone.

We have all heard the stories of wealthy people leaving their fortune to their pets.  This does not work.

Animals do not have the same legal status as humans, and a gift of money or property will fail under Queensland succession law.  There are, however, a number of ways people can make arrangements for their pets after they die, including:

  • leaving their pets to a suitable beneficiary;
  • leaving their pets to a beneficiary with a gift of money to be used for the pet’s maintenance;
  • making a gift to a beneficiary conditional upon that beneficiary accepting a pet;
  • using a service such as the RSCPA’s Pet Legacy Program, which allows you to leave a bequest to the RSPCA and in return they will care for your pet while they look for a replacement family.

By speaking to an estate planning lawyer, you can ensure that appropriate arrangements can be made for your animal loved ones.

We are happy to discuss reviewing your current estate plan (or preparing a new estate plan if you do not have one) and offer discounted fees for clients for whom we have prepared estate plans for previously.

Contact us on (07) 5606 7332 to discuss this or any other matter.

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