Can you leave it all to your cat? Pet beneficiaries explained 0

A cat who has been left an estate in a will

Somewhere in Germany, there is a dog with more money than most of us could ever dream of. 

Gunther IV, the world's richest dog
The real Gunther IV at home.

Gunther IV owns property in three countries. He spends afternoons by his private pool. He summers in the Bahamas. He has a butler, and a maid, and a limo. He apparently lives with a team of supermodels.

Gunther IV has all this because German Countess Karlotta Leibenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her dog, Gunther III. Who left it to his son.

Now, most pet owners would deem this a bit extreme. After years of letting the cat out, and in, and out again (ad nauseum), he really owes you — right?

But some of us do wonder: could I do that?

 

Can you leave your entire fortune to your pet(s)?

If you’re reading this in the UK, the answer is … sort of.

You can’t directly leave all your money to your cat, or dog, like you would a normal human beneficiary. In UK law, a pet is a possession, not a person (don’t look at me like that, I don’t make the rules).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend will live in style without you. Here are the options.

 

The popular choice: Pet guardians

If you’re a parent, you can use your will to choose legal guardians for your kids, just in case. A lot of people know about this. 

Don’t forget to show the guardian your chin-scratching technique.

What they don’t know is that you can do the same thing with your pets. 

It’s a standard service we offer here at Beyond. When you make your will, you can pick someone to take in your beloved pet. Someone you trust to give them the love (and constant door opening) they need. 

You can also leave your chosen guardian funds and equipment to help them in their new role of pet-parent. After all, pets can be pricey. The lifetime cost of owning a cat is £17,000, and dogs can cost us up to £31,000 over the years.

For most people, the pet guardian option is perfect (purrfect?). It means your pet will go to a loving home, rather than a shelter. And it prevents vicious family debates over their eventual fate.

But for others, something more tail-ored is required.

On Beyond, it costs just £90 to make a will that protects your pets. That’s hundreds less than most traditional solicitors! Click here to make your will with us today.

 

The full-throttle option: Pet trusts

Pet trusts are relatively new to the UK, but they’re catching on fast.

A dog with money from a pet trust fund
Dogs are famously rubbish with money. Photo from Training Academy on Flickr.

A pet trust is a pot of money that can only be used to pay for your pet’s care after you die. You choose a carer, and lay out a set of things the money can be spent on (vet’s fees, food, etc.) You also choose trustees. Their job is to make sure the money is actually spent on your pet, and not on holidays in Bali. 

When your pet joins you in the great beyond, the remaining money goes to your chosen beneficiary.

Now, pet trusts can be complicated to set up. Compared to naming guardians in your will, it’s a more expensive option. But if you’re interested, we recommend talking to our complex wills team. They’ll be able to help you out.

Interested in setting up a pet trust? No problem. Call our complex wills team on 0800 054 9793.

 

The catch

As you can see, making sure your pet will be cared for is easy.

But if you want to leave everything to them — the whole shebang —  there can be issues. 

Basically, your disgruntled relatives can (and probably will) dispute the will. 

While they likely won’t be able to snatch the whole fortune back, they can claim “reasonable financial provision”. So, if you don’t want them to drag poor old Fluffy to court, it’s best to leave at least something to your human loved ones.

 

The long and short of it

So, here it is in a nutshell. You can’t bequeath your dog or cat (or lizard) money in your will. But you can appoint guardians or set up a trust for them instead.

If you do this, maybe don’t leave everything to your pets. After all, what would a dog do with all that money?

A dog whose owner left him her whole estate

Oh, right.

 

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Retirement 0

retirement

Whether you’re close to retirement age or not, the idea of life without work is an incredibly appealing prospect. However, if you want to get the most out of your retirement, it’s vital that you begin to think about what you want to take from it and how you can prepare for it.

 

Financially, there are a huge number of considerations to make, including savings, investments, pensions, funeral plans and wills, but you also need to think about how you can maximise your time and what kind of a life you want to live once you quit your job for good. Here we take a look at a few different ways you can get the most from your retirement.

 retirement

 

What do you want from retirement?

One of the key ways of ensuring you get what you want out of your retirement is by taking the time to consider how you want to spend the time and what you want to do with it. If you don’t know what you want from life after work, how are you going to ensure you achieve your goals? Everyone desires something different from retirement – be it a peaceful few years at home enjoying your hobbies, travelling the world or ticking off items on your bucket list – so it makes sense that people will need to prepare in different ways too.

 

Plan ahead

Once you understand exactly what you want from retirement, you can begin to work out how to achieve your aims. This will involve asking a number of important questions. How large will savings need to be? How many more years do you expect to work? How long is your retirement likely to be? Are there any other important financial considerations, such as rent, a mortgage, health bills or family commitments, to consider? Once you’ve answered such questions, you’ll be in a better position to budget for a financially secure future that’s able to deliver those things you really desire.

 

Reduce expenditure

One important but often forgotten means of ensuring a happy retirement is minimising the cost of those expenditures associated with old age. While a lot of people don’t consider a funeral plan until they are well into retirement, there’s enormous savings to be made if you begin thinking about these things now. With funeral costs rising at a far higher rate than inflation, a plan like the Beyond Open Plan could drastically reduce the amount you pay out for your funeral. By thinking ahead and taking out a plan like this now, you freeze the cost of your funeral at today’s prices and could avoid paying three times as much in 10 to 15 years’ time.

 

Prioritise

Finally, getting the most out of your retirement necessitates a certain amount of prioritisation. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to do absolutely everything you want with your retirement, so it’s important that you begin to think about what’s really vital to your plans and what you can afford to drop. Remember that life is full of surprises, so you don’t want to overstretch your savings and potentially leave yourself open to financial uncertainty. It’s always a good idea to maintain some savings as security should things not turn out quite as you had planned.

When should you start thinking about your own funeral? 1

thinking about your own funeral

Although there is no prescribed age at which you should begin thinking about your own funeral, there’s a number of reasons you shouldn’t leave it too late. Here we take a look at why it’s best to take a more practical approach and to start contemplating how you would like your own funeral to be at a much younger age.

 thinking about your own funeral

You’re never too young…

Ultimately, you’re never too young to start thinking about your own funeral. Though it may sound slightly macabre to talk about funeral arrangements before a funeral becomes a likely proposition, there are a number of advantages to beginning to contemplate what you would want from a memorial service and how you’re going to finance it. Often, planning ahead can leave you in a better financial position, make you feel more secure and help to ensure your funeral is exactly how you would like it to be.

 

Talking about death

One of the key advantages of beginning to think and talk about your funeral arrangements at a younger age is that it encourages us to talk about death and dying. In a number of ways, contemporary society is incredibly uncomfortable with death and has managed to sideline and hide it from view. We use euphemisms instead of referring to death directly, avoid discussions surrounding the topic, and try to push it from our minds as much as possible. Rather than accepting it as a part of life and treating it as such, death has become somewhat of a taboo subject. This can be both an unhealthy and unhelpful approach to take, so it’s important to start talking more openly at a younger age about death, dying and funerals.

 

Funeral Plan

There’s also a more practical reason for starting to think about your own funeral at an earlier stage in your life. If you begin by looking at the Beyond Open Plan, you’ll discover that such a plan freezes the price of a funeral at today’s rates. With the cost of funeral services expected to rise at an incredible rate over the next few years, this could save you an enormous amount of money in the long run. Not only does it guarantee a cheaper funeral, it gives you complete control over the arrangements, ensuring everything’s exactly as you want it.

 

It can be a comfort to your family

Organising a funeral is difficult, especially if you’re grieving. You want to make sure that every detail is as your loved one would have wanted it, from the music to the dress code. If you haven’t recorded your wishes anywhere, this places an added burden onto your family.

 

It only gets harder

Finally, it’s also important to think about what happens if you leave your funeral plans to the last minute. For some people, making their own funeral arrangements later in life doesn’t really pose a problem. For others, it can be extremely difficult. As we get older, when death becomes a more realistic proposition and we’re confronted with our own mortality, it can be a challenge to talk about these important issues. Rather than discussing them with family members or friends, many people avoid their fear of death by sidestepping the subject, leaving them unprepared at the end of their lives. By starting to talk about death at a younger age, we can ensure this isn’t the case.