What happens to the animals in the estates?

Can a dog or cat inherit from their master? The question may sound wacky, but it does arise in many end-of-life cases when the animal remains the deceased’s last companion.

If the law has recently recognized the animal as a living being endowed with sensibility, and no longer as a movable good, he nevertheless remains without legal personality. As a result, he cannot be seen as one inheritance. There is still a legal way to protect him after the death of his master. What happens to the animals in the estates? New answers.

Can an animal be inherited as part of an estate?

Article 515-14 of the Civil Code defines animals as “Sensitive Living Beings”. If they are no longer part of the property category since law no. 2015-177 of 16 February 2015, are no longer considered people. It is rented in the intermediate category living beings endowed with sensitivity. All domestic animals, both domesticated and pets, are affected by this provision.

The same Article 515-14 of the Civil Code states that animals remain “Subject to the regime of good”. Although the animal is a living and sensitive being, the legal status of property always applies.

Pets described as living with naked sensitivity are considered to be people. So they are not not endowed with legal personality.

As a result, naked animals cannot inherit, neither by donation nor by will, in the context of an estate. This faculty is reserved for individuals only. Naked dogs and cats can be considered heirs of the deceased master.

Prior to the February 16, 2015 law, animals were considered personal property. That is, goods that can be transported from one place to another. The official recognition of the animal as a living being endowed with sensitivity allows a better consideration of animal welfare.

Who inherits animals as part of a succession?

If the deceased master cannot give or bequeath all or part of his inheritance directly to his dog or cat, it remains to be questioned as to the fate of the animal as such. Who inherits the pet as part of a succession? Who should take care of it, before and after the settlement of the said estate? So many questions that are answered in the laws governing successions in French law.

An estate consists of the assets and liabilities (debts) that the deceased had at the time of his death. Movable property and real estate are the successor assets.

Animals have the legal regime of movable property. Legal, so they are included in the mass of property to be shared from estate assets.

Prior to the final settlement of the estate, all the heirs of the deceased are undivided. Maintenance and feeding costs of animals are considered to be expenses incurred in the interest of the individual and must be reimbursed. In other words, the heir who took care of the animal is reimbursed the sums committed.

At the time of the division of the estate, at the time of the succession, the heirs must agree on the future situation of the animal. For example, one of the heirs may ask for the animal to be recovered. It may also be decided to give it an association. In case of disagreement, the partage will then be judicial. It is the judge who will decide on the fate of the deceased’s animal.

How to protect your animals in case of death?

If it is not possible to give or bequeath directly a sum of money to your pet at his death, there is a legal solution to protect and protect him from any need.

The future deceased may decide to transfer part of the succession, only at the available quota, to a trusted person or to an association to take care of the pet. We are talking about paid liberality.

Specifically, the master must write a will or make a donation that is accompanied by an obligation for its recipient. Namely, the payment of a sum of money on condition of taking care of the designated animal.

A master can therefore entrust the care of his pet to a trusted person. To do so, the deed will have to be drafted before a notary.


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