Britons urged to put financial plan in place for pets' life after their own death

Owners that don't adequately plan for their pet's care after they die risk them being given away or even put down, new research of 1,000 people from Saga Legal Services reveals. Pets are usually thought of as part of the family, yet half of all UK pet owners haven't thought about what would happen to their pets after they're gone, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) assuming their pet will automatically be inherited by their next of kin. Distressingly, nearly a quarter of us (24 percent) would either choose to give a pet away or have it put down if it came to inheriting it with costs and hassle cited as the top deterrents.

The top five reasons Britons do not want to inherit a pet:

1.    The cost involved (17 percent)

2.    The hassle involved (17 percent)

3.    Doesn't fit into my lifestyle (16 percent)

4.    Don't like pets (16 percent)

5.    I'm allergic (4 percent)

The study reveals that only a tiny fraction of pet owners (three percent) have currently made provisions in their Will and even those that have are still risking their pets future as there is no cast-iron imperative for family to take them in. With nearly one in five of us (17 percent) worried about the cost of an inherited pet, owners who want to ensure their pets are looked after in perpetuity are being urged to consider making a financial provision by leaving an appropriate sum of money in a Trust. Guiding consumers to make the right decision for their pet, Saga Legal Services has released the Pets Left Behind Guide, which is available to download for free from the website.

German Shepherd (PD)The research also reveals the special requirements UK pets have with over a fifth (21 percent) having dietary requirements, 17 percent having health issues and almost half (48 percent) needing lots of cuddles. Whilst this is information every current owner knows, new owners could be in the dark when they adopt; a potentially distressing situation for both owner and animal. To ensure vital information is communicated, the guide contains a Pet Executor form which, once completed with a pet's details, should be stored alongside a Will to be provided to the new owners when needed most. The Pet Executor Form should list everything needed to make the transition as easy as possible, from critical dietary and health requirements, to instructions on what time 'walkies' are and how best to administer cuddles.

Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services says:

"As a nation of pet lovers, it's surprising that more of us don't make proper legal and financial provisions for our companions. Whilst we do usually outlive our pet, it's important to plan ahead should the unexpected happen, leaving our furry friends without the security they deserve. Our Pets Left Behind Guide and Pet Executor Form are designed to offer the expert legal advice needed to make the right decision for your circumstances as well as to ensure pets receive the level of care they deserve."

Top Tips For Financially And Legally Protecting Your Pet

By Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services

1.    Name who you want to care for your pet in your Will. Specifying in your Will who you want to look after your pet lets everyone know what you would like to happen. Use the Pet Executor Form to share vital information and remember: no one can be forced to take your pet even if requested in your Will.

2.    Add a Trust to your Will. A Trust is a legal arrangement allowing assets such as property or money to be looked after for the Beneficiaries in your Will. There are several types of Trust available, but when providing for pets, a Discretionary Trust is usually the most sensible. With this, you can set aside a certain amount of money to care for your pet by gifting it to a Trustee, in this case the new owner. Ensure the trust lasts for longer than your pet's probable life span e.g. 30 years for a cat or a dog.

3.    Consider how much money to leave. The amount of money you want to leave depends on the type of pet and the lifestyle you want it to lead. Some may want their pets to live a pampered life whist others may just want to cover the basics such as food and vets bills.

4.    Set up a Lasting Power of Attorney. Whilst the above helps you provide for your pet when you die, you should also consider what happens if you become seriously ill or incapacitated. With a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), your designated attorney would be able to make provisions for your pet, such as paying a vet bill or for temporary care as needed.

For more information or to download the Pets Left Behind Guide and Pet Executor Form, visit www.Saga.co.uk/legal.

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