It’s estimated that over 17 million households in the UK own a pet. With most pet owners considering their pets to be part of their family, it’s no surprise that many would want to ensure they were taken care of after their death. Following on from last week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Ann Coutts, Senior Associate within our Wills, Trusts and Probate team answers some frequently asked questions on this topic.

1. How can you include a pet in your Will?
A pet can be included in your Will, in that you can stipulate a person or persons who you would wish to care for your pet after your death, and you can also leave an amount to those persons for the care of the animal. Similarly, you can leave provision for a charity to take care of your animal.

2. Do you have to include your pet in your Will? What happens if you don’t?
You do not need to include your pet in your Will, and if you do not leave provision for your pet within your will it would be for your Executors to decide who would care for your pet and in what circumstances.

3. Do different animals need different provisions – for instance, hamsters compared to dogs?
You do not need to list different provisions depending on the type of animal.

4. Do you need to update your will every time you get a new pet?
Unless you specifically name the pet within your Will, you would not need to update your will for each new pet. It is common for a reference ‘to my pets’ to be included in a Will. If you do however specify your pets by name then an update or new would be required.

5. Can you leave part of, or even, your whole estate to your pet in your Will?
It is not possible to leave your estate directly to an animal. You can however leave part or even your whole estate to a person or persons who are to care for your animals and a provision to be included that the money is to be used for the care and upkeep of your animals. However, ultimately on the death of the animal there would need to be an ultimate beneficiary by way of person or charity for your Will.

Note that the last two options require the executor(s) to police the arrangement.

At Ellisons our specialist Private Client Solicitors are able to help you plan for your future. By instructing our respected Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors in Essex and Suffolk you can plan ahead making sure your family is provided for in the future. Contact the Ellisons’ specialist Private Client Solicitors today on 01206 764477 or email us at