What will happen to my pet when I die?
The UK is known for being a nation of animal lovers. In fact, it is estimated that on average every other household across the country owns at least one pet, with there being around 20 million pets owned altogether. Many pet owners consider their animals as a member of their family and are completely devastated if they die. However, what about if the opposite occurs and you do not outlive your pet? Many become understandably concerned about what might happen if they end up not living past their pets. It is thought that thousands of people die each and every year without having let others know their wishes about what they would like to happen to their pets, such as through their funeral plan. Some people never express their wishes simply because they were unaware of how to arrange things for their animals after they had died. We take a look at the steps you can take to ensure that your pet is taken care of.
Have your pet named in your will
One of the best ways to make sure that your pet is properly taken care of is to put them in your will. No, we don’t mean that you can ‘leave’ money to an animal you owe exactly, but rather you can decide to nominate a friend or family member (always make sure that they are happy to take care of the pet if you died before naming them in your will, as owning an animal is a big responsibility) to look after them and you can leave to the people you have chosen. This cash can then be used for the upkeep of the animal.
If you so wish, it is possible to add a specific bequest to an existing will, which means that you can fund a nominee who can care for the pet after you have died. You can do this by adding it as a ‘codicil’ amendment to the will. It is also possible to add a ‘letter of wishes’. If you are unsure as to exactly what this is, it is more or less the same as a handover note that you would give to someone whilst you were away on holiday. For example, this note would detail the pets habits, diet, likes and dislikes, condition and contact details of its vet.
Pet care cards
Not heard of a pet care card? In certain respects, these work in a very similar way to an organ donor card. Carrying a canine care card or an emergency cat care card means that this information can be used to let the necessary services know that you have a pet that needs to be cared for, in the event that you became ill or worse. The Dogs Trust enables you to apply for a canine card completely free of charge, with the charity taking care of your dog if you died before they do. If you did die whilst still owning a pet, The Dog’s Trust will take the dog to the nearest available rehoming centre, and examine them by their vets before helping to find your pet a new owner whose experience and lifestyle matches your dogs need.
To apply all you need to do is fill out an application form and return it to the charity. Once issued with your card, it is recommended that you keep it on you at all times and treat it in much the same way as an organ donor card.
Plan ahead when it comes to your funeral costs
Making sure that your animal has been rehomed safely is not the only thing you will need to consider. Getting a pre-paid funeral plan means that you will be able to arrange all the necessary funeral details in advance, providing peace of mind. This is because you are able to pay instalments on an incremental basis through a long-term plan with a funeral director, making a sad and difficult situation a little easier when the day comes.
Register with pet care charities
Another way that you can help to ensure the well-being of your pet after your death is to sign up with a pet care charity or an animal trust on a ‘pre-need’ basis. For example, The Cinnamon Trust aims to help the elderly and infirm to still be able to keep their pets for as long as possible, with volunteers coming round to help them (there are more than 15,000 volunteers across the UK) whilst also providing long-term care for pets who are in their later years but their owners have now passed away. There is also the Pets into Care scheme set up by the Blue Cross. People can register up to four pets per household at any one time on the scheme, and you can rest assured they will be taken care of and placed in loving new homes, with safe transportation and admittance of your pets guaranteed. Furthermore, this service is offered completely free of charge and is available to anyone who is living in England, Scotland and Wales, not just for those who live near to a Blue Cross centre.
Meanwhile, the RSPCA has set up a Home For Life scheme. This makes sure that executors are aware after you have died that you want the RSPCA to take responsibility for your pet and help to find a loving home form them. If you sign up with them, the charity will give you a simple clause that can be added to your will or as a codicil.