Including Your Horse in Your Will: Factors to Consider
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Posted by Jessica E. Choper, Esq.
Thinking about adding your horse to your will? Here are several factors that you may want to consider and steps to take.
Choose an Attorney
You may want to consider establishing a Trust for the horse in connection with the planning for your Will and/or Estate. Consider an attorney who specializes in equine law and/or an attorney who specializes in Trusts and Estates. The advantage of working with an attorney well versed in equine law is that the attorney will be more familiar with the horse profession and have an understanding of the costs, obligations, and/or goals associated with leaving your horse with someone else upon your death.
You want to set up a Trust for the Horse(s) that is created by virtue of your death in the Will. It may be most beneficial to have an equine attorney who can work in conjunction with a Trust/Estate attorney to establish the Trust/Will.
Define Your Goals
Is the purpose to ensure the well-being of the horse in your absence or to provide for a specific person(s) and/or for a family member to have the opportunity to keep the horse and enjoy or compete with the horse?
Identify the person(s) to be responsible for horse. Is the chosen individual willing to accept responsibility? Consider family members, trainers, or friends when identifying who will take over responsibility for your horse.
Is it acceptable for person who will be inheriting the horse to sell it and keep the proceeds in exchange for paying expenses, or will proceeds of a sale go to someone else?
Consider the Horse
Is the horse old or young? A competitive show horse, a pleasure horse, or a companion in the field? Does the horse have vices, veterinarian needs, or unique propensities that the person inheriting the horse must know about and be able to accommodate? What is approximate value of horse on marketplace?
Make Financial and Practical Considerations
How much will it cost the person inheriting the horse to accomplish your goals and who will pay for the associated costs? Do funds and assets allow for you to establish a Trust for the Horse, the funds of which can be used to pay all essential expenses, such as veterinarian care, farrier, and board? If Trust is established, who will be Trustee?
Explore all Options
There are several avenues that you can take when leaving your horse in your will. A few options to consider include:
Sale of Horse – Do you want to provide that a specified trainer/agent will be the person to sell the horse and identify in advance where proceeds will go after costs associated with sale? Will the proceeds of the horse become part of your estate and considered one of your assets?
Donation – Do you want to donate the horse to a university or riding school or therapeutic riding group to be used and cared for by an institution?
Retirement Facility – If you are concerned about the horse’s future well-being, you may want to consider having the will provide that the horse shall go to a specific retirement facility in the event of lameness or inability to be ridden.
If you have concerns about the future of your horse and its well-being, consider the above factors, discuss your options with family, friends and trainer, and once you gather specific information to be able to answer the above, meet with an equine attorney and one well versed in trust and estates to discuss how to best accomplish your goals.