Choupette – The world’s richest cat!

Shortly after the news of Karl Lagerfeld’s death was announced came the somewhat surprising news that due to the writing of his Will, his pet cat, Choupette, was expected to receive a substantial part of his estate. Mr Lagerfeld was a German national living in France but it is interesting to consider to what extent it would be possible to write a Will in the UK which would allow this to happen.

Under English law it is not possible for a pet to be a beneficiary of a Will. They are considered either personal property or (if they are a working animal) they may be considered a business asset. The fact that you cannot leave money to your pet in your Will does not, however, mean that you cannot use your Will to ensure that they are cared for in the event of your death.

Looking After Your Pets In Your Will

There are many ways to ensure that your pets or animals are well cared for after you have gone. In your will, you could leave your executor the task of re-homing your pet and include a letter of wishes explaining how you wish for a new carer to be chosen.

If you would prefer to choose your pet’s new owner yourself, you can nominate a friend, relative or neighbour in your Will. However, that person is not automatically entitled to any funds from your estate to assist with the care of your pet so you may choose to leave them a cash gift to help them with care costs such as vet’s bills.

If you have more than one pet, or your pet or animals are likely to have more substantial ongoing care costs (such as horses) you may wish to use your Will to create a trust for the benefit of your pet or pets. The trust will allow your nominated people (your trustees) to hold and or invest money and use it over a longer period of time for the benefit of your pet or pets. The trust can run for a maximum of 21 years. Your Will can also state what should happen to any funds left after the animals have died or the 21 years ends.

Pets are an important part of our lives and can often provide us with comfort and companionship in our final years. You may not be able to make your pet the richest cat, dog, horse, rabbit or tortoise but you can certainly ensure it is well looked after!

If you want to discuss writing or re-writing your will, whether to make provision for your pets and animals or simply to ensure that your affairs are in order, our team of experienced wills and probate lawyers would be delighted to hear from you.

About The Author

Claire Thompson is an affiliate member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

Claire specialises in all aspects of private client law including Wills, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection matters, Estate Planning and Estate Administration.

Claire can be contacted on