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Pets in wills: A dog is for life - and after!

View profile for Lisa Cox
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We’ve all heard the famous slogan “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas” but what happens if your dog’s life is longer than yours?

Pets are undeniably considered a member of their owner’s family, with recent reports indicating that millennials in America are treating their dogs as if they were their first born, due to the costs of raising a child. In fact, the love for our pets is so strong that it is estimated that one in four divorces now involves a dispute over them. It is therefore understandable that you would want to ensure that your pet is provided for, should they out-live you, to avoid the need for them to be re-homed or be surrendered to a shelter. So what can you do?

Whilst you cannot leave a gift to your pet in your will, you can make a gift to a family member or friend on the condition that he or she provides a suitable home for pet and maintains them. However, this comes with the risk of your chosen person not accepting the pet. It is, therefore, possible for a trust to be set up which would in effect mean that your chosen trustees manage a designated sum of money for the purpose of fulfilling your pet’s needs, such as buying food, getting check-ups at the vet, grooming and, most importantly, new toys!

Trusts of any nature are complex, and require careful consideration and drafting, which is why we have a specialist team here at Birkett Long. If you are considering leaving your estate in a trust for your pet, please contact us for a free, no obligation 15 minute chat.

I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217307 or

Read our blog Who gets the dog? Are pet-nuptial agreements actually real? to find out more about pets involved in divorces.