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Morbid thoughts/Making arrangements for my favorite horse when I'm no longer around

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  • Morbid thoughts/Making arrangements for my favorite horse when I'm no longer around

    So, DH and I are revising our wills and making guardianship and trustee arrangements, and that has led to my thinking about what would happen to my current herd. Two are no problem, people will fight over them, regardless of age - absolutely broke sweetheart of a 10.2 child safe pony, and absolutely broke sweetheart of a QH, the husband/guest/child horse.

    The problem child, in every sense, is my much beloved personal horse - currently 13 years old, suitable only for an assertive intermediate rider and a confident handler on the ground. Nothing terrible, just a pushy, take a mile type. His only marketable skill is hacking out/trail riding, at which he is a boatload of fun, forward and eager and brave. His other good qualities are that he is very sound, a very easy keeper and cute - a bright chestnut with some chrome. He is, essentially, unsellable, a free to a good home sort of horse.

    But he has brought me as much joy and pleasure than my more athletic, competitive or successful horses of earlier years. He makes me happy when I see him in the paddock. I just flat adore him. The thought of him being sold to an unsuitable home or more likely, on a truck to Mexico, makes me distraught.

    So I want to provide for him in my will. (Please feel free to dismiss this as lunacy and stop reading now.) My question is, how much money is enough money to provide for an easy keeping, pasture boarded horse for 10 - 15 years? Recognizing that easy keepers at 13 may turn in to hard keepers at 25. The two folks I'm thinking of asking both have farms and other horses, and both could get some use out of him while he was able. So what is reasonable? 20K? 25K? Paid out as a monthly annuity? Or would it be more reasonable to give the them the lump sum, so the can build a run in shed, subdivide a paddock, or whatever is necessary. I trust both individuals completely, as long as they are able, I am confident they will abide by my wishes.

    Has anyone ever done this? Or do you know anyone who has? If you were the recipient of such a bequest, what would you prefer?

    Am I crazy for thinking about this?
    The plural of anecdote is not data.

  • #2
    No, you are not crazy for thinking of this. My SIL is single, no kids, and has made similar plans for all of her animals in her will, and she updates periodically. She has 6 dogs, 2 cats, a horse and a snake. She has talked to friends and picked the one who will be the best match for a particular animal (DH and I are down for one of the border collies).

    I don't know the particulars of the money, but she has allotted enough money to care for the animal until it dies naturally or must be humanely euthanized. I'm given to understand it's a lump sum, and people she trusts who won't just euth and keep the cash. I would assume that the 2 yr old dog will come with more money than the 17 yr old. I would guess she has averaged the annual bills for the animal and guesstimated it's lifespan.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


    • #3
      I just did this for my two. I don't remember the dollar amount, but we estimated how much it would cost to provide for 2 per month, then multiplied that by 12, and then multiplied that by I think it was 15. For the monthly amount we added in for possible vet bills, trimming yadda yadda yadda. That money will go into a trust fund that my sister will use to provide for the horses if my husband and I are both gone.


      • #4
        I don't have any suggestions for you, but I do not at all think planning for your horse's care after you're gone is morbid at all. It's a very responsible and loving thing to do and reminds me I need to update my will to formalize the plans for my horse and dogs that I have informally arranged with my best friend. Thank you for posting this.


        • #5
          You're not nuts. You're practical and kind.

          Don't know where you're from. BUt I'd plan on at least 300/month for board, plus an extra 500/year for vetting.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


          • Original Poster

            Central Virginia. I know what it costs ME, a scrupulous pasture manger and under grazer, to keep one for a year, and it's about 1K/year/horse. Add in trimming, worming and shots, and I'm thinking $200. - 250/month. Not actually commercial boarding, but paying the actual cost of care at a private farm.
            The plural of anecdote is not data.


            • #7
              Do you have someone in mind to keep him because 200-250 sounds kind of low for board around here in VA. That might be the cost, but unless you're sending the horse to a person who already has their own place, you might need to up that number per month.

              I am paying 250/mo right now for essentially pasture board in VA.
              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...


              • #8
                Definitely not nuts, DH and I did this as well. I went with a lump sum and the understanding that the person receiving the animal can do whatever they want/need to do -- including re-home or euthanize.

                Beyond providing for the animals themselves, my concern is to take the pressure off whoever is having to deal with the estate, as this only kicks in if both of us are gone.
                ... and Patrick


                • #9
                  My horse is in my will, with a cash provision to my BFF to care for him. The decisions are all hers, PTS, field care what ever she decides.

                  While we were discussing this she also stated that she would be willing to give me the "pink juice" if I needed that.

                  HMMMM....maybe I put too much money in the will for her.


                  • #10
                    I do not think you are crazy at all - tomorrow is a gift and not guaranteed, none of us know we'll definitely be there for our animals.

                    I don't have suggestions for you - I am woefully unprepared myself, and I should really start thinking about my animals should something happen to me - but I do think clearing it with the people you have in mind first is a good idea before you leave them the horse. Just for everybody's peace of mind.
                    *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


                    • #11
                      Not morbid at all. Very smart actually; & shows you to be a responsible owner.
                      Last edited by ThisTooShallPass; Dec. 11, 2012, 10:53 PM.
                      "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


                      • Original Poster

                        Yes, I would discuss it with the people I'm considering first, absolutely.

                        But I guess I'm hearing loud and clear I need to up my estimate of the appropriate lump sum or annuity.

                        Part of this is motivated by my realization that DH could deal with the other two, but absolutely, positively can't deal with this one and it would unfair to ask him to.
                        The plural of anecdote is not data.


                        • #13
                          Not morbid and totally doable.

                          First, you need to decide whether you want to leave horses and dough to someone (or someoneS) via a will or a trust.

                          Using a will, the animal and dough becomes their property. A trust appoints someone whose job it is to carry out whatever is specified in the trust. IMO, it's the better instrument, if the more complicated one.

                          Perhaps the best way to do this is to check out retirement farms that you'd like and base your guesstimate on their rates.

                          Assuming you'll use a trust:

                          You pick on person (or even better, a pair of them) whom you trust as horsemen and money managers. It can be safest to have more than one person involved-- so two people need to sign off on major decision and spending the dough.

                          Then you get to specify what you want. Do you have opinions about when the horse gets euthanized? How that's done? Sold? Bred? Where it lives? How often it gets checked on by one of the trustees?

                          Last, I think trustees should get paid for what they do. After all, it will be a PITA to babysit someone else's horse from afar for perhaps a decade or more. The trust I'll set up includes that.

                          IMO, you need an actual attorney to write this trust for you. I think there are lawyers who can/have written trust for animals out there. Another good bet is an attorney that specializes in trusts for disabled children. I think you need to know what you want (chances are you know more about old horses than the lawyer), but otherwise that attorney can help you think through the "what ifs" and get the language right.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat


                          • #14
                            Before you worry too much about how much money to set aside, why not talk to the friend(s) in question and ask them what they think. Do they plan to stay on their own land? Do they want financial assistance when they take over care of Dobbin of it is something they would feel strange about taking money for? If they wanted money would it be best for them in a lump sum or over payments.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mvp View Post
                              Using a will, the animal and dough becomes their property. A trust appoints someone whose job it is to carry out whatever is specified in the trust. IMO, it's the better instrument, if the more complicated one.

                              Last, I think trustees should get paid for what they do. After all, it will be a PITA to babysit someone else's horse from afar for perhaps a decade or more. The trust I'll set up includes that.
                              I agree, a trust would be better. It costs more to set up than a will, but it is definitely worth it! After my mother died unexpectedly without a trust, and then my grandma died with a trust in place, my entire family experienced firsthand how much easier a trust is for those left behind. It's just much easier to avoid the courts altogether with a trust, plus as I understand from when my grandmother died, you get immediate access to bank accounts, unlike in a will when it can take weeks or months for the paperwork to be in place for the banks to allow access.

                              However, I disagree about "paying" people to take care of your "kids". I would never expect to be paid to take care of my BFF's furry kids, nor do my SO and I expect to be paid to take care of our nieces and nephews should the awful occur! If my BFF expected me to pay her on top of covering all of the expenses for my horses, I wouldn't have asked her to do it.

                              That being said, I pretty much say "take care of them like you would your own". My BFF is a horse owner, so I fully expect them to live a happy life like her mare. She and I live across the country from each other; I have no expectations that my horses wouldn't move to her state, and live at the barn with her mare, which would naturally be a change in care. I didn't put specific care instructions into it like I think MVP was implying.


                              • #16
                                Check with your lawyer and make sure your trustee can be "trusted"

                                We are coming across the following. Individuals who stated they would take the horse or horses upon the death of a breeder/owner are now backing out once the person died.

                                Enter the "family" or those mentioned in the will. AGAINST ALL PROVISIONS in the will they are now demanding MONEY for these horses...i.e. 1000$ for a 15 year old never bred mare...as she is VERY VALUABLE.

                                Another case...man left money for the maintenance of his herd of 5 Quarter horses. They are to be boarded out (where they have been) until they die OR are too sick.

                                Both sons are in court next week trying to get that portion of the will (worth millions) over turned due to the financial stress it will cost those who are inheriting.

                                MONEY and WILLS are a tinder box and even the nicest families destroy themselves over 10,000$

                                For each horse HAVE A BACK UP.

                                Some are having their herd, horse etc euthanized upon their demise. Many vets *HSUS sponsored will not euthanize healthy horses so make sure you have a vet who will if that is your choice.

                                Courts do overturn trusts due to the ongoing expense of it...even though that is EXACTLY What the deceased wanted for their animal.
                                The Elephant in the room


                                • #17
                                  Most important is to have an agreement on the caretaker's part that they want the responsibility. We have horses in our barn whose owner passed and left the horses along with a chunk of change to her friends, none of whom really want the responsibility. Nothing bad will ever happen to these horses, but it's a drag on the new owners, and no one is getting any younger around here.

                                  On a lighter note, there is a horse in our barn called Tequila. As her previous elderly owner lay dying, she would moan the mare's name over and over. Her hospice nurse who had no knowledge of the horse thought she must have been an alcoholic.

                                  But she did have people who sold her horse to a loving forever home which is how I heard the story!
                                  A helmet saved my life.

                                  2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!


                                  • #18
                                    Not morbid at all, reasonable. Get a trust, make sure your trustee can reasonably do it (i.e., pick someone younger than you!).

                                    The way I'm thinking about it (please tell me if this sounds nuts) is as follows:

                                    There will be 2 trustees. They will not know each other well, by design.

                                    Trustee 1 is the horse caretaker. She will get pony, and $x a year to care for pony. (have already identified Trustee #1, she has land and a couple horses already, and is completely willing to take this role)

                                    Trustee 2 is tasked w/ verifying the care of Trustee 1. Visit 4x a year, take pics, make sure pony is kept as she should be and Trustee 1 didn't take her to auction and pocket the $. Bad scenario is unlikely, but I'd prefer it not to be easy to do.

                                    I would be interested to know what actions and provisions one can take to make any trust I create hard to mess with, legally, should my relatives turn into crazy greed heads who want to raid my critters' trust. Would a video recording where I state my desire and intentions about how the trust should operate (placed into a safe deposit box under custody of an attorney), be useful in this regard?

                                    I don't have much, but I am adamant about planning for the proper care of my animals.
                                    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                                    • #19
                                      Try this thread:


                                      • #20
                                        You've gotten a lot of good advice, and I will echo what several people said: you're NOT crazy or morbid. I wish more animal caretakers were as thoughtful and responsible as you!
                                        I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo