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The other day, a client sent me his draft will to review. Amongst other things, he had bequeathed his dog to his sister-in-law. This raised a two interesting issues.

The first question was why would he want to do that? Those of you who love your pets as children may want to ensure that a close family member agrees to care for them in the event of your death. It may then be appropriate (though not necessary) to include the bequest in your will.

Then we must ask whether this can be done, and the answer is simply yes, even though the dog was not named, it was still identifiable as being the dog owned by him at the time of death.

Next was the question of Estate Duty. Let’s say that the dog had a long pedigree and was worth R50 000. Would that form part of his estate for Estate Duty purposes? Hmmm. I’m not sure about that one. I think it would and my logic goes like this –

Someone realises that he is dying and seeks to avoid Estate Duty, so he sends his family out to buy as many highly pedigreed dogs and cats as they can find. They manage to spend R500 000 and voila! that little exercise saved R100 000 Estate Duty. Clearly this flies against the intention of the Estate Duty Act and I think a judge would find against the deceased estate. The question is, would it ever get before a judge? I doubt it.

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