Can family pets actually be included in a person’s will?

Legal Moment on FM96


[phone ringing]
Receptionist: Cohen Highley
Announcer: And now the Cohen Highley Legal Moment on FM96.
Announcer: I’m with Joe Zangari from Cohen Highley Lawyers.

Can family pets actually be included in a person’s will?

Joe Zangari: While most pet owners consider their pet to be immediate family, under Ontario law, pets are considered property so legally they are unable to hold any property in their names alone. So no, testators cannot leave cash legacies to their pets. Similarly, you cannot set up a trust where the beneficiary is a pet rather than a person.
Announcer: OK. What are the options for Ontarian’s who wish to include pets in their will?
Joe Zangari: You could establish a pet guardian, someone to care for the pet upon the pet owners death. With this in place, the testator can either leave a cash gift to the pet Guardian or establish a trust for them. In this they can include specific instructions to the Guardian outlining the care of the pet and the ongoing use of funds that are placed within the Trust.
Announcer: Thanks Joe. This has been the Cohen Highley Legal Moment.
Singers: Cohen Highley, we’re listening.


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