Home The Cat That Got The Cream: UK pets set to inherit £81.7 million in wills

The Cat That Got The Cream: UK pets set to inherit £81.7 million in wills

Press Release: November 27, 2020

The Cat That Got The Cream: UK pets set to inherit £81.7 million in wills

Simpson Millar find that almost half of pet owners plan to leave money to benefit their pets in their will 

  • On average, pet owners plan to leave £3,642 to ensure the welfare of their pets
  • Pet owners also plan to leave an average of £1,717 to pet charities
  • 31% of pet owners plan to leave their pets to their children when they pass away
  • However, half of pet owners (49%) have not yet considered what might happen to their pet after they die
  • Simpson Millar have created a Will Checklist to help ensure people are aware of all aspects of a will

New research from Simpson Millar has shown that 44% of pet owners are planning to leave a significant amount of money to ensure the welfare of their pets once they pass away.

On average, pet owners are planning to leave £3,642 in a trust for their beloved animal. This is compared to the median UK inheritance left to next of kin of £11,000.* With Statista data revealing there are 51 million domestic animals in the UK, calculations show that the nation’s much-loved pets could be set to inherit as much as £81.7 million in owners’ wills.

One in 10 (9%) pet owners claimed to be leaving more than £10,000 for the welfare of their animal, with three in six (6%) leaving over £20,000.

Although you cannot directly leave money to your pets in a will, solicitors at Simpson Millar advise that you can leave money in a trust, which a selected beneficiary can then access to look after your pet.  

Men plan to leave more money to look after their pets than women, with an average of £4,176 compared to £3,642 for women. Young people (18-24-year-old) are the most likely to leave some money to their pets (70%), however, those over 65 are the most likely to be generous – 13% say they will leave their pet over £20,000.

As well as a trust for their pet, pet owners also plan to leave an average of £1,717 to a pet charity.

The UK’s biggest pet lovers (based on the % who said they plan to leave them some money) are:

  1. Northern Ireland (61%)
  2. London (52%)
  3. East Midland (50%)
  4. North East (50%)
  5. Yorkshire (47%)

A third of pet owners (31%) are planning on leaving their animal to their children, one in five will leave their pet to their partner, and just four in 100 plans to leave their pet to a rehoming charity.

However, one in five owners (21%) have not planned to leave any money to ensure the welfare of their pets, and 20% have not yet thought about who will care for their pet when they pass away.

Leaving large sums of money to ensure the welfare of pets is also popular amongst celebrities and the wealthy - the richest cat in the world is reportedly a black cat named ‘Blackie’ who inherited £7 million in 1988 when his owner Ben Rea — an antiques dealer — left a good portion of his fortune to his beloved pet. TV host Oprah Winfrey will also reportedly leave $30 million (£23 million) to her five dogs, and Actress Betty White will reportedly leave $5 million (£3.7 million) to her dog.

Simpson Millar advises that if someone dies and there are no plans for their pet, it can cause problems for those looking after their estate. If they have not made provisions for their pet in their will, the Executors of the will are responsible for the animal and will be in charge of finding someone to look after the animal, be it a family member or rehoming charity.

If there is no will in place at all, there won’t be anyone held responsible for the pet, so their wellbeing will vary on a case by case basis.

Jonathan Maskew, Head of Probate, Wills and Trusts at Simpson Millar, has put together some tips for how to ensure your pet is looked after when you pass away:

  1. Ensure you make a will if you have not already

No matter how old you are or how many assets you have, you should take the time to make a will. Your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions, and property in line with your wishes. Without one, the law will reside how your estate is passed on, which might not be what you want.

  1. Make provisions for your pet in your will

Decide if you want to appoint a guardian for your pet, and who that should be. Make sure you consider if this specific person would actually be able to look after your pet – consider if they have sufficient time, space, and knowledge.

  1. Consider the cost of pet maintenance

 Pet ownership costs money, and if you’re planning to leave your pet to someone, you should always consider leaving cash to help your beneficiary with the costs of the pet.

  1. Ensure you correctly draft your will

Ensure your will is correctly worded so it’s clear what the requirements of your pets beneficiary are, what they will be provided with, and consider any mitigating circumstances. Consider seeking legal advice on will writing to make sure all your wishes are followed.

For more information about creating a will, Simpson Millar have created a Will Checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything important. If you have any further questions take a look at the Wills and Trusts page.

- Ends- 

Contact details: 

For further information, please contact Rosa Mitchell via rosa.mitchell@ingenuitydigital.co.uk or 01423 529300. 


Survey of 1,000 UK pet owners taken in October 2020

* https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/10/millennials-are-wildly-misjudging-how-much-wealth-theyll-inherit.html  


About Simpson Millar:

We’re different from other law firms. We understand that people can often be apprehensive and even nervous about speaking to a Solicitor, so we’ll make sure you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible and we believe in being open and honest with you at all times.

We have a clear and straightforward aim. This is to create a simpler way to tackle your challenges and we believe in challenging how things have always been done if and when there’s a better way.

That’s why we’ve developed a range of legal services that are straightforward, transparent and don’t have any hidden surprises or costs.

We pride ourselves on being friendly and approachable and our Lawyers and Solicitors will always give straightforward legal advice in plain English. And when we do need to use ‘legal jargon’, we’ll always clearly explain what we mean - so you’ll know exactly where you stand at every step of the process and you’ll never be left unsure of what’s going on.

Finally, we don’t believe in a ‘one service fits all’ approach and, wherever possible, we’ll tailor what we do to suit you and your unique needs and circumstances. Of course, this isn’t always possible but again, we’ll make it clear at the beginning what we can and can’t do and you can be sure we’ll always act in your best interests.

Some facts and figures about us

  • We’ve been providing legal help and support for more than 170 years
  • We’re a national law firm with offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Southport
  • In 2018, we acquired EAD Solicitorsand JWK Solicitors.
  • We have just over 500 colleagues
  • We’re owned by Doorway, an independent and specialist provider of capital to law firms. Doorway is, in turn, owned by Mount Capital, a family business with global multi-managed funds
  • The firm is divided into 3 practice groups (Personal Injury, Private Client and Public Law) and 6 business service departments (HR, IT, Risk & Compliance, Marketing, Operations and Finance)
  • We were the first law firm to receive the Law Society’s award for excellence in Practice Management (Lexcel), and one of the first to be accredited as Investors in People.
  • In April 2007, we became one of the first law firms considered against the new Investors in People standard that includes wellbeing of staff as a consideration.






Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Rosa Mitchell

Tel: 07712148822

Email: rosa.mitchell@wmg.uk.com

Visit the newsroom of: Rosa Mitchell

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