Pet owners and Wills

What should I do with the dog?

As a recent dog owner, I now understand why people become besotted with their dogs.

When animal owners come to us to make their Wills, they frequently want to give their dogs/horses etc to someone they trust.

There are a few problems with this:

• Much as they love the dog, they can’t force it on anyone else. All they can say is they would like Auntie Mabel to have her. It’s a good idea to have a substitute “beneficiary”.
• The chances are the dog will die before they do, so it’s best to refer to “any dog I own at my death” not a named animal.
• As I now know, owning a dog is a liability. People should consider a cash legacy to pay for some of the costs.
• A dog is not a thing which can be left in a Will so it is probably better to leave a letter of wishes, saying what you want to happen to the dog. Even if the gift is in the Will, it can’t be enforced. A letter of wishes can easily be changed without seeing a solicitor. OK it’s not binding, but nor is anything in the Will about the dog, and most people would honour it.
• A letter of wishes is quite simply what it says it is – a letter from you saying “In the event of my death this is what I would like to happen to Daisy…..” It should be kept with your will.