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Make sure that your four-legged friend will be looked after when the time comes.

Many people assume that their family will care for a beloved pet after they’re gone. But every year, thousands of animals have to be taken in to shelters after the death of an owner. That’s why it’s important that you plan ahead so your feline friend or canine companion has a safe home to go to when the time comes.

Choosing someone to look after your pet

Making a will lets you give your estate to one or more people after you die. This includes all your belongings, money and property.

However, the person or people who inherit your estate will have no legal obligation to care for your pet. They might be unable or unwilling to look after them.

If you do have someone in mind to take in your pet when the time comes, it’s essential that you talk to them about your wishes. You should discuss if this is something they’d be able to do, so that you can make alternative plans if they don’t feel they can give your pet a good home.

Providing for your pet in your will

You might have heard stories of millionaires leaving their entire fortune to their cats, or similar, but this is not legal in the UK. You cannot leave money directly to a pet.

However, in your will you can leave money to the person who will be looking after it, or set up a discretionary trust to pay for their upkeep and vet’s bills. You should seek advice from a solicitor who can help write these kinds of clauses into your will.

How animal charities can help

Some animal charities have schemes to help you plan for your pet’s care after you die. These pre-registration schemes mean that the charity will look after your pet if no one else is able to care for them.

If you register for the RSCPA’s Home for Life scheme, the charity promises to look after your pet and try to find a suitable home for them.

You can apply for a Canine Care Card with Dogs Trust. When you die, your dog will be taken to the nearest rehoming centre and Dogs Trust will try to find them a suitable new owner. They promise to never put a healthy dog down.

The Cats Protection League does something similar for cats with the Cat Guardians Card. Like Dogs Trust, they have pledged to never euthanize a healthy animal, so you’ll know your cat is safe and happy.

If you’re planning ahead, find out why you should make a will and how you can pre-plan your funeral with Avalon.