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Paws for thought: what happens when I can’t care for my pets anymore?

03 April 2024

Have you ever wondered what preparation can be done to ensure your pets are looked after properly further down the line? Our wills, trusts & probate experts offer some useful guidance in our latest article.

‘What happens when I can’t care for my pets anymore?’ is a common worry for many across the country. According to recent statistics, the number of households in the UK owning a pet have remained stable over the years with an estimated 57% of us owning a pet in 2023. It is clear we are a nation of animal lovers, and it seems that fact is here to stay!

It is one thought to consider what happens to your pet when you die, but what if you lose capacity to take care of them during your lifetime? While it is difficult to think about what might happen if you can no longer take care of your pet, you can take positive steps to ensure your pets are looked after, no matter what the future may hold.

The first step should be putting in place lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) if you do not already have them. LPAs are powerful legal documents which allow you to appoint people you trust (attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to.

When creating LPAs, it is possible to write guidance (preferences) and instructions to your attorneys as to how you would like them to make decisions for you. We recommend including these so your attorneys have a record of your wishes. This guidance is where you can make provision for your pets.

We set out below some examples of points you may wish to consider:

  • Who do you want to take care of your pet? The named individual could be a relative or close friend. If you wish to name a specific person to look after your pet, be sure to discuss your intentions with them and obtain their agreement before completing your LPAs
  • Do you wish to provide instructions to make financial provision for your pet? For example, for your attorneys to continue to pay for food/vet bills
  • Do you wish for the named individual to bring the pet to visit you on a weekly or monthly basis?
  • Would you like to nominate a shelter/rescue charity to take care of your pet before they are re-homed?
  • Do you wish for your pet to carry on living with you? If so, would you like someone to come over to put out food and exercise your pet so that your pet can stay with you?
  • Alternatively, if you were to move into a care home, would you like your pet to join you? Therefore, is it a stipulation that you move somewhere that allows pets?

You can use the guidance in the LPAs to make all of this known.

Unless you specifically state who you want to take care of your pets, or specify a shelter that can rehome them, you may not be able to have a say in the future of your pet’s life.

To avoid an unwanted fate for your pet, you must be specific when drafting guidance and instructions for your LPAs, and we recommend obtaining professional legal advice to ensure your wishes are recorded as you want them.

If you instruct us to prepare your LPAs, we will go through them in detail with you to make sure they are tailormade and specific to your wishes and instructions.

Our highly rated team of wills, trusts & probate experts are here to help if you have any questions or queries. Please get in touch.

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Our Legal 500-rated wills, trusts & probate team has the expertise to help you plan for the future and guide you through any difficult challenges that may arise, including those relating to your pets.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
Leah Vincent LLB (Hons), LLM, TEP
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