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Wills: Providing For Your Pet

Wills: Providing For Your Pet

Rosalind Watchorn Solicitors Sheffield advise on how to look after your pet in your Will.

You may have heard recently of pensioner Marlene Howes who was accused of fraudulently claiming pension tax credits and was alleged to have concealed a £50,000 legacy left to her by her mother. Mrs Howes contested that the money had been left to be held in trust for the benefit of her mother’s troupe of Persian cats. In this instance Mrs Howes was cleared of fraud as she could demonstrate that the money left had been spent solely on the cats. However this case has left many wondering how to provide for their pets in a way which does not burden trustees/executors.

It is not possible to leave money directly to a pet as they are not a “legal entity” capable of inheriting: they cannot own money or property of any sort. Where loved ones are willing to look after your pets you may consider leaving money directly to the prospective owner. As we can see from Mrs Howes’ case, if money is to be used for the benefit of a pet or pets, it is vital that the terms of the trust are explicit. The way in which the money ought to be used (such as to pay for vets bills, food and toys etc.) should be clearly set out in the Will or a separate signed document referred to in the Will so as to ensure that the trust is enforceable.

For those whose family or friends are unable to look after their pets, many animal charities will provide a new home for pets after their owner’s death; some require a legacy in order to provide this service. Any such bequest would be free from Inheritance Tax (IHT) as a donation to charity, and if you choose to bequeath 10% of your net estate then your entire estate could benefit from a reduced rate of IHT.

If you are concerned about providing for your pets after your death, or have any other enquiries regarding Wills and tax planning make an appointment with Rosalind Watchorn Solicitors Sheffield today. A member of our Wills team will be happy to discuss your situation in a free initial consultation.

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