Including Your Dogs In Your Will

Who will provide for your dogs after you're gone?
Who will provide for your dogs after you’re gone?

– The issue of providing for dogs in our Wills is something many dog owners often do not give a second thought to. Yet it is becoming increasingly common for Lawyers to raise this topic with people when preparing new Wills or adjusting existing Wills.

So, have you thought about providing for your dogs (and other pets) in your Will?

This question was raised with a family member during a recent Will preparation discussion, and clearly came from left field for the person involved. At the Daily Dog we can understand how this question could easily catch people off-guard, as when preparing a Will, naturally our thoughts are primarily on our two-legged family members, rather than those with four legs.

Whilst there are no statistics available regarding the number of dogs being provided for in Australian Wills, in America (where else!), such statistics do exist – and are quite eye opening. According to the Washington University School of Law, up to one quarter of all pet owners now provide for their pets in their wills. So popular has this trend become that thirty nine of the fifty American States have passed laws that allow trusts to be set up explicitly for animals. The reason behind this move is apparently to protect such animals from two-legged predators (i.e. disgruntled human family members) who may try to get their hands on the loot and relegate Fido to the doghouse. Given Australia tends to follow America across so many trends, we would not be surprised if there is already a significant number of Australians who have provided for their own dogs from their Estate too.

Famous cases such as the late Michael Jackson’s Chimpanzee “Bubbles” have spurred the process of codifying the rights of animals in Wills. In that case, although Bubbles was provided for in Jackson’s Will, various parties and their lawyers have ensured the animal sanctuary caring for Bubbles has not received one cent for his care to this day.

Perhaps Jackson should have used the Solicitors for notorious slum-lord Leona Helmsley from New York. Despite having her own share of legal troubles, and spending some time in the dog-house herself over her treatment of the tenants of her housing apartments, Helmsley successfully provided for her Maltese dog “Trouble” after her death. Withstanding legal challenges to Helmsley’s Will, Trouble (and her legal team!) trotted away into retirement with a US$2 Million trust fund in her doggie-bag, whilst several of Mrs Helmsley’s grand children were disinherited. Naturally the Will was challenged, but left largely intact as Helmsley and her Lawyers had done their homework well.

Even if you’re not famous or infamous (as the case may be), at pups4sale we think it is a good idea to give thought to providing for your dogs in your Will. Kind words and good intentions from friends and family only go so far, so for peace-of-mind over what may happen to your dog/s should you drop off the perch, you may like to give your Will a brush up. For instance, have you given thought to:

. Where your dogs are going to live.

. How much it will cost to care for your dogs for the rest of their days.

. The need to have a written agreement in place with the nominated carers; family members/friend/shelters, etc.

. Who is going to oversee compliance with such agreements

Some food for thought there, wouldn’t you agree? Especially if you want to ensure food on the table for your dogs when the time comes for you go to the great kennel in the sky! Your thoughts as always are welcome below…

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