Adding a furry friend to your Will

If Rufus or Tigger are just as dearly loved as your next of kin, you may want to consider adding them to your Will.

Did you know two thirds of households with dogs or cats regard their furry companions as part of the family*?

Under Australian Law, domestic pets are considered to be property**. So, you can’t leave money or assets to a fur creature, but you can provide for them by allocating them a caregiver in your absence and covering their expenses in your estate.

Here’s what you need to consider before adding your pet to your will:

1: Choose a caregiver

It goes without saying, that you need to have a conversation with whoever you choose to allocate as your cat or dog’s legal guardian. Make sure they love (and aren’t allergic to!) your breed of animal, and if you can, have two possible caregivers in case something happens to one of them.

If you don’t have a person you can trust to take care of your loved cat or dog, you can leave them in the care of a charity (such as the RSPCA, or Lort Smith Animal Hospital). If you’re choosing a charity, make sure you contact them first to learn what their specific legacy program involves. This is a very popular option for people who don’t have a caregiver they can trust to ensure the animal is treated well.

Your trustee (or the executor of your Will) will manage the assets you’re allocating to the carer for the costs of your pet, so the next step is to think about how much money you’ll need to leave for their care.
2: Choose an annual budget for their care

When considering an annual budget for your pet’s care, you might want to look at the average annual costs to cover food, vet care, health products, grooming and boarding. You might find the latest stats from MoneySmart helpful, but you should also look at the average that you usually spend over the course of a year:

  • Dog: $1,627
  • Cat: $962

Also consider your pet’s lifespan. An indoor domestic cat can live to 18 years***, but on average they live roughly to the age of 13. An average dog’s lifespan can be a little shorter (10-13 years on average), but you can check the lifespan of your dog breed here.

So, when you’re allocating funds in your estate, look at your annual costs for your pet, and multiply them by the number of years your animal may have left to live.
3. Talk to a professional
TelstraSuper Financial Planning Advisers can refer you to an estate planning specialist who can help cater for your wishes in relation to your loved ones, including your furry friends. If you’d like to discuss your estate planning needs or if you have any other financial advice queries, contact 1300 033 166 or fill in our online contact form.