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It is not unusual for animal lovers to be concerned over who will look after their pets after their death and so it is probably no surprise that we learn today that the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is rumoured to have made provision in his Will for his cat Choupette.
Legacies for the provision of animals can be difficult to enforce. After all a disappointed pet can hardly go along to their local lawyer and give instructions to issue court proceedings to enforce their rights under a Will however the Courts have ruled that gifts in Wills providing for an animals’ maintenance are valid. So how do you ensure that your pets will receive the benefit of their legacy?
You could leave your pets and a cash sum to your executors with a letter of wishes setting out how they should apply the legacy for your pets’ benefit.
Alternatively, you could leave a cash sum to a named individual and make the legacy conditional upon them agreeing to care for your pets for the remainder of their natural lives.
A third option would be to leave a cash sum to a trust. The trust would have a period of 21 years to run from your date of death and at the end of that period there would normally be a person or persons or charity named to receive any money still in the trust either at the end of the 21 year period or on the death of the last of your pets, whichever is the sooner.
Finally, you could leave your pets and a sum of money to an animal welfare charity with instructions to arrange the rehoming of your pets.
One important thing to decide is how much to leave to cover the cost of maintaining your pets. You should relate the figure to the life expectancy of your pet. In Choupette’s case a cat (assuming it is on its ninth life!) will live on average 15 – 17 years and will cost around £1,000.00 to £1,200.00 per year to maintain (including vets bills). £12,000.00 may not be enough to keep 7-year-old Choupette in the manner she is accustomed – dining on King crab, smoked salmon and caviar – but we suspect that in her case she may receive more than the average cat from her late owner. If not, she always has her earnings from her advertising career reported to be in the region of £2.3 million.
Martin Sissons is a Partner and Solicitor at Bell & Buxton, specialising in Private Client Law.
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