Can you really leave your estate to charity, the Cat’s home or Dog Shelter?

When families have disagreements the old refrain of “Well,  I’m cutting you out of the will and leaving it all to the Cat’s home” used to be a familiar saying. Is it really possible where competing interests and government legislation weave a complex web of obligations, rights and responsibilities extending even beyond the grave?

What if there is no family left to leave your estate to or if they are estranged? Who will look after your pets and affairs when you are gone?

Whilst people seem more interconnected with technology, sadly often personal connections become lost and families move further away; working and living throughout the world so that no one is close enough to look after the details. Where there is abuse then this may amount to disentitling conduct so any claim on an estate may be challenged.

Elder abuse and loneliness in the community seems more pronounced the more complex our society becomes and shifting neighbourhoods mean the close friends and neighbours are often no longer there to help when the time comes.

A life well lived usually includes all sorts of assets, interests and pets. What you loved in your life can be the basis of a charitable bequest or estate funds may be used to set up a scholarship or memorial award in your name which may encourage disadvantaged artists, musicians and sports persons to follow their dreams.

Our pets are family and become more important as age and immobility limits the opportunities to travel, pursue interests and sports. The comfort of that companion who has lived with you in the good and bad times is priceless.

The Succession Act in Queensland and the general law govern certain aspects of the administration of estates and can affect how an estate is distributed. Spouses, certain financial dependants and children may claim they have not been adequately provided for in a will.

However you are free to gift your estate to whomever you choose within the law and if your precious cat is your best companion or your dog treats you better than your children, then you may want to gift a fund or legacy to a charity like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and provide for them to care for your pets when you are gone.

We can help and have recently prepared wills and administered estates where gifts have been successfully made to charities with specific terms providing for legacies and funds for scholarships and to provide for a specific treasured pet. Our experience extends to resisting claims for family provision and challenges to wills.

If you need advice and help concerning your will, estate or estate planning, Teresa Kearney and McLaughlins your experienced Gold Coast lawyers can help and give guidance.


Author: Teresa Kearney

Director: Ian Kennedy

Date: 9 May 2019