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Pets named in Wills: like Karl Lagerfeld, are you 'feline' the love?

View profile for Emma Stride TEP
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Pampered pet

In the wake of fashion industry icon Karl Lagerfield’s death, his beloved pet cat is reportedly set to inherit a significant chunk of the Chanel Creative Director’s £150million fortune.

In an interview with French magazine Numero last year, Lagerfeld had confirmed the birman cat as one of the heirs of his estate, no doubt ensuring ‘Choupette’ can continue living the lavish lifestyle to which she has become accustomed!

The sums bequeathed are crazy, the ‘maintenance’ seems madness, but is the principle really as sensational/shocking as it’s being reported?

Bonkers or Besotted?

It’s true, celebrities can often seem a bit bonkers when it comes to their eccentric affection towards their pets (Lagerfeld once told CNN that he’d marry Instagram-famous Choupette if it were legal) ; also see Michael Jackson and pet chimpanzee Bubbles), but is Lagerfeld really so different to many of us, in wanting to make a provision for an animal’s welfare in a will?

Regardless of whether you’re a ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ person (or anything else in between!), human beings are known to develop strong bonds with animals, offering their owners companionship, comfort, therapy or rehabilitation, often improving the quality of our lives.

We can become hugely attached to our pets and making sure that they’re well cared for after we have passed away can be a priority for some.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

It’s your life, your choices, your say – planning ahead and creating a will helps ensure your wishes are followed, not only when it comes to the distribution of your estate, but also the provision for your pet’s welfare.

Whilst you cannot leave a cash gift to a pet (they can’t open bank accounts, for example!), the Administration of Estates Act 1925 defines domestic animals as ‘personal chattels’ and, as such, you can make gifts of family pets in your will.

It’s advisable to speak to the person you want to look after your pet before you make or change your will – make sure they’re happy to take that responsibility on board.

You can also leave a cash sum to a friend, relative or trusted person, on the condition that the money will be used to look after your pet for food, grooming, kennels, vets, insurance… etc.

We would strongly recommend that you seek specialist legal advice when creating your will as the pet provision clause(s) need to be carefully worded in order to be enforceable.

Planning for the future

Planning ahead will give you peace of mind that your four-legged friend will be looked after - wills can be simple to set up, simple to change and need not cost the earth.

If you don’t have a pet but animals are important to you, organisations such as the PDSA will cover the costs of a simple will or mirror will, making it even easier for you to get one drawn up or updated.

If you’re thinking about pet provision, why not pop in to one of our FREE weekly Wills & Probate drop-in clinics to find out more. Alternatively, contact our Wills & Probate Department on 01606 48777.


This article has been written for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please do not hesitate to contact us on 01606 48777.