Showing posts with label last will and testament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label last will and testament. Show all posts

Wednesday 12 April 2023

How do you make provision for your cat on your death?

This is actually quite straightforward. See a lawyer!! I've added some details below.

Status of the domestic cat

The first point to recognise is that under the law of Western (developed) countries and perhaps all others the domestic cat is like any other object possessed by a person. Therefore, you cannot give a gift in a will to a domestic cat because they are the kind of 'object' that you gift to a beneficiary! 

Domestic cats don't have the legal capacity to be a beneficiary. Therefore, if you want to give some money in your will to a cat you've got to give it through a person who then spends that money on the cat.

How do you make provision for your cat on your death?
How do you make provision for your cat on your death? Image in public domain.


And that person will usually be the executor of your will. The executor is the person who causing all your assets on your passing, sells them to liquidate them and then distribute the money. They act as trustees of your estate.

Or it might be another beneficiary. You make arrangements with the person to look after your cat on your death. You trust them. That is the ideal. You could do this outside of your will. What I mean is the detail can be arranged outside of the will in a conversation or a letter. In the will you might refer to your cat going to the selected person.


But the key factor here is that you must trust the person to look after your cat as you would after you passed. If you don't have that advantage then you might consider setting up a trust. These are called pet trusts. This can be drafted into the will or it might be in a separate document. You'll need a lawyer to do this.

Under such a trust, the trustee will receive the money which can be used to care for your cat. The cat might be living with somebody else and that person will receive these funds in communication with the trustee or trustees.

The objective here is to take access to the money away from the cat's caregiver who is looking after your cat and give that responsibility to the trustees who under the law must act like trustees. They could be sued if it came to that if they pocketed the money.

Reducing the risk of misbehaviour

The advantage here is that if there are two trustees and the third party is the person looking after the cat, there's much less chance of misbehaviour because there are checks and balances between these three people.

If you give all the power and responsibility to look after your cat including spending your money to a single person there is a greater likelihood that that person will misbehave. If you share that responsibility between three people the chances are that it will be a success because if one person wants to misbehave and spend the money on a holiday the other trustee should stop them. That is the way it works but clearly it doesn't always work like that! People will be people.


I have to believe that it is unusual for a person to set up a pet trust for their cat or dog. Normally this will be when a lot of money is involved. The cat's owner might be rich and they have a particular fondness for their cat and it is very important for them that their cat is well looked after on their passing. It will be exceptional.

Normally a cat owner will simply make arrangements informally or in a letter and indeed in the will for a person they know well to be the beneficiary of their cat with instructions to look after him or her.

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