With more people treating their pets as part of the family, many are now writing ongoing support and care for their furry friends into their will.
The observation was made by veteran estate planner Elsa Pau Yuen-ling, who said she saw a couple of cases a year in which her clients decide to include pet care in their wills.
"In the past, you probably saw one case every few years as people rarely had their pets on their mind when they made their estate planning. But for the past three years, we have seen more people include care of their pet in their wills. They want to make sure their animals will be taken good care of when their owners are no longer around," said Pau, who has been in the trade for about 10 years.
Since pets cannot be a beneficiary under the law, the testators have to set up a trust from which the money can go to the care of the animal, she explained.
"So the trustee falls under a duty to find a carer for the animal," she said.
Over the past three years, the SPCA has received more than HK$80,000 from three donors who bequeathed part of their estates to the charity in their will.
"In the past, we used to come across this kind of donation only once every few yeaers," a spokeswoman for the organisation said.
Pau also found that since people now were more open to preparing a will, the number of her clients had jumped about 30 per cent in the past five years.
"After seeing all the high-profile legal battles in court, such as the probate disputes over the estates of late billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum and late Cantopop diva Anita Mui Yim-fong, people have started to believe they should better prepare their estates for their loved ones to help avoid legal disputes among family members," Pau said.
In 2011, an Italian cat became one of the world's richest animals after inheriting almost £10 million (HK$122.4 million) when his wealthy owner, Maria Assunta, died at the age of 94 and left him the entire family fortune. Tommaso was a stray cat she had found on the streets of Rome and looked after because of her love for animals.
Assunta had a large property portfolio with homes and villas across the country, as well as several bank accounts and share portfolios, but no living relatives.
In 2007, a Maltese named Trouble was left a US$12 million trust fund by his New York real estate tycoon owner Leona Helmsley.
Steven Gallagher, law professor at the Chinese University, said if people wanted to leave money for their pets, he didn't t see why they shouldn't do it.