Johnston Withers

Wills & Estates: Can I leave my estate to my cat or dog?

Published on Monday 13 July, 2020 by Emma Godson (nee Wilkinson)

One popular question asked of clients when preparing their wills is whether or not they can leave some or all of their estate to their beloved cat or dog.

Unfortunately, in short, the answer is no. Under the law pets are merely property and are not capable of receiving or owning.

There are some options available when drafting your will for ensuring your pet is looked after when you die.

Can i leave my estate to my cat or dog johnston withers lawyers

Gifting your pet in your will

You may ‘gift’ your pet to someone as you would any other property. One popular option is to gift your pet with a sum of money that the recipient can use towards the expense of looking after the pet.

If you make no such gift, it is likely that the residuary beneficiary will inherit the pet. If they do not want the pet, your executor may make alternative arrangements such as euthanizing the pet or surrendering it to an animal welfare shelter who may rehome it or euthanize it.

Leaving money for the benefit of your pet in your will

If you definitely want your pet to benefit from all or some your estate, you can set up a trust within your will for the maintenance of your pet. The trust can set aside an amount of money which can be used to pay for things such as rehoming your pet, paying day to day expenses such as toys, food, care, and clothing as well as for payment of medical expenses which can be quite significant.

Johnston Withers Lawyers: We’re here to help!

If you would like to discuss your will we’re here to help guide you through the process. We have permanent offices in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Clare. We also service Roxby Downs on a regular basis.

We have been operating in South Australia since 1946 and have a proud history of ensuring everyone has fair access to the power of the law.

If you or a family member would like to discuss your will please call Emma Godsonon (08) 8231 1110 or get in touch online.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Emma Wilkinson - Johnston Withers Lawyers


Emma Godson (nee Wilkinson)

Practice leader: Wills and estates

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