1 in 10 Australian seniors plan to leave portion of estate to their pets
The relationship between pets and humans has evolved over many centuries. From trained hunters and service animals, to loyal four-legged friends – the position of the humble pet has become one of an irreplaceable companion.
With pets becoming prominent members of the modern family, it’s difficult to distinguish whether pets are a member of the family or piece of property? For most people, the answer is: both. No matter your emotional connection, the law considers pets to be tangible personal property, like a car, jewellery, or furniture.
The evolution of the pet’s place in the family has been confirmed by recent data that reveals a pet’s position has been elevated to become a core member of the modern family. According to an Retirement & Inheritance Report, 1 in 10 Australian seniors plan to leave some portion of their estate to their pets.
A further 76.7% of seniors who plan to bequest at least some part of their estate to their pets say they are doing so to ensure their pets will be taken care of after they pass on. 42.8% of Australian seniors claim they’re leaving their pets an inheritance as they are an important part of their family, while 36.3% say they have no children or grandchildren to provide for, leaving their pets as their heirs.
How to ensure your pet is looked after
There are a number of ways you can ensure your pet is looked after. Perhaps it’s your children, siblings, nieces or nephews, or maybe a close friend. Or if these are not suitable candidates, due to many reasons (such as housing, allergies, mobility), there are charitable organisations that can help.
If you’re leaving your pet to an individual, you may want to give a lump sum to help pay for some costs associated with your pet’s future care. Calculation could be derived by the annual costs to care for the pet, and multiple that figure by the pet’s remaining life expectancy, plus add some extra for medical care as the pet ages.
A will has the advantage of simplicity; including a pet in your will is usually relatively inexpensive. As with any other piece of property, you state in your will who you’ve chosen to inherit your pet upon your death — but you can also leave that person funds to help defray some of the cost of the pet’s care. Typically, the will would state that the person would only receive the money upon accepting responsibility for the pet.
Some individuals want to get more control by with a pet trust, which lets you set aside money with specific rules as to how the money will be used. This is ideal if you’re contemplating leaving a larger amount — to pay for much or all of your pet’s future needs, including not only food and vet visits, but also medication and grooming, plus any boarding, walking services, and other costs. You’d name a trustee to manage the funds, and ensure that the money is used solely for the care of the pet. The downside of trusts, however, is the cost: You could pay thousands of dollars in fees to set one up — depending on where you live and the complexity of your situation — and the trustee is entitled to compensation from the trust funds. Individuals must also want to decide what happens to any funds left in the trust when the pet dies; many people find it appropriate to donate the balance to an animal-related charity.
Manhattan woman leaves $100,000 to her 32 pet cockatiels along with specific instructions
The trust is controlled by her stepson, whom she stated is entitled to use his ‘judgement and discretion’ to determine how and when the money should be used for the pets. But she did leave some detailed instructions on how she would like her pets to live.
The will states that she wants them to continue living in the aviary at her home. Should they be moved, she requires it to be to a protected place of similar size and material, without a cage. She was also specific on how and when they’re fed. “It is my wish that the birds be fed and the building cleaned each Monday and Thursday and their food shall be purchased from AVI Cakes, Carrots, water and popcorn,” the will states.
On the more rags-to-riches side is Tommaso, a onetime stray cat on the streets of Rome, who inherited $13 million when his owner, the widow of an Italian property bigwig, Maria Assunta, died in 2011.
So why all the hassle with pets?
There is a great deal of research out there that shows pet ownership is beneficial to the health and wellbeing of seniors. Pets encourage us to get exercise and are just generally good for distressing, and helps minimise blood pressure and cholesterol through companionship. They are also offer an opportunity for non-verbal communication, such as individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia, which can in turn assist with verbal communication. Pets are also a great way to meet other pet owners and enhance your social setting.
Put simply, pets are the ultimate companions. Not only do they provide their owners with unconditional love, but the routine of looking after a pet provides owners with the same benefits human companionship can.
Read more about the benefits of pets, and why pets can positively impact to your life
Volume one is not just limited to the benefits of pets, but covers a range of topics that explore how laughter is the key to a happier life. Volume One is important for anyone looking to be positive or reinforce their positive outlook on life. In it, we explore the key to happiness and why smiling is such an important part of life, regardless of your age. Read more on Volume One.
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