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Wills- what did you include for your older horse?

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  • Wills- what did you include for your older horse?

    I have a soon to be 21yo TB who really has no market value. DH and I are working on our will. I'm curious what you have done in your wills to provide for your oldsters. I have a SIL that is a horse person and could be guardian - but fundage/ provision wise what did you do?


  • #2
    You need to ask your attorney how to arrange that.
    Siince horses, dogs, etc. are possessions, you are better off leaving money to a person with the agreement that they will use it to take care as you ask them to of the animals you have.

    Several of our dog club members have done so, designating other club members as recipients of so much money for the disposition of their animals.

    With animals, you have to find someone you trust.

    To leave money for the care of an animal, I think you have to establish a trust for them and an executor of the trust and it gets involved.

    Surely you can find someone to follow your wishes?

    In a will, you are better of making a general request, not naming a special animal, so you don't have to keep changing your will as your situation changes.


    • #3
      I work for a lawyer, so he helped us take care of the horses and our dog. We basically added a list to our will (which can be changed without changing the will itself) that named each horse, who he was to go to, and $25,000 for each one's care. Same thing with the dog, except left $10,000 for his care.
      stained glass groupie


      • #4
        I know some people would contact reputable, long-standing rescues, and have the horse placed in the rescue program, but the owner would keep the horse. If anything ever happened to the owner, then it was easy to prove who the horses should go to, and they left enough money to cover their expenses. Sometimes these were well bred horses who could be broodmares, returned to the track, etc so the owner would give the papers to the rescue, so no one could doubt where the horses should go. Hope that makes sense


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for your feedback!

          Based on what some of our lawyer relatives suggested we bought will software and plan on having a lawyer review what we come up with and tweak it (supposed to save us a bunch of money rather than starting from scratch.) The software actually allows us to put pets in and $$$ for their care and who they go to. The dog is pretty easy - people will fight over her (we already have two relatives who said they want her) - it's my poor horse that I'm most worried about since I want to make sure he is cared for and as an oldster he is a big liabilty. The rescue idea is interesting!

          I'd love to hear what others have done!


          • #6
            My best friend and I are both about equal horse owers. We have agreed that the other will take care of the horses from the one who dies first - either arranging for care with money left, or if there is no money (who can know?) to euth or sell/give to the best homes possible.
            Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


            • #7
              You can set up a trust, naming someone to oversee the care of your horse. But even trustees can fail and take the money. So you have a bank or someone, a lawyer or someone besides the person who is the trustee, oversee the trustee so that the money is used for the horse, not for a new car or something else.
              Even Lenora (sp) Helmsley's trust for her dog was broken. When human family members take a will/trust to court, the judge usually rules for the people over the animal.
              If you have a friend or family member who won't cheat your estate, you can leave your horse and money to that person. But remember money corrupts.


              • #8
                I have my life insurance (the will is a winter project, but everyone involved knows my wishes at least) set up so that my sister will inherit the money to care for my elderly horses, and physical control will go to a horsey friend who lives nearby and knows them. Just to keep in mind for updates, which you will want to make periodically once you get everything written--my oldest horse is now 33, and pretty much in hospice care--he has a lot of issues that we're managing, but I expect that he's rapidly approaching the day that we won't be able to keep him comfortable anymore. I have known this horse for 16 years, and tend to pick up on his issues before anyone else, just because I know him so well. So, I'm actually thinking that I may change things to specify that he just be euthanized upon my death, just in case. I have sort of a different set of concerns with him-I have horsey parents, and a sister and a best friend who would provide him with fabulous care for as long as he needed-but, I worry that if I died unexpectedly (and I'm 32, so it would be unexpected :-)), and say he took a downturn within the month, it would be really emotionally tough on everyone to make the decision to euthanize the horse.


                • #9
                  Set up an honorary trust for the care of your animals. Have multiple trustees--a financial institution for the money and a horse person for the care and decisions. These are not in all states, but check and see if its in yours.

                  Helmsley's trust did not fail. It was just TOO MUCH money. It has to be a reasonable amount. 13 billion was too much for the care of one dog.

                  Wills are the worst way to provide for your animals. Honorary trusts in states that enforce them is the best way. A trust can be written in any state, so if your state does not enforce them find a lawyer or trustee in a state that does.

                  Never ever trust anyone once you are dead. Get something that can be enforced in a court.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by equinelaw View Post
                    Never ever trust anyone once you are dead.
                    You can always come back and haunt them.



                    • #11
                      My aunt set up a trust for her 6 dogs and 10 horses. Since her health is rapidly failing she wanted to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that her 'babies' would be okay. I will make sure everyone is cared for, has a good quality of life, and when the time comes I will make the decision for a peaceful and dignified death for each one. I don't take that responsibility lightly...if I were in that position I would want the same.

                      Another thing we have discussed is possibly letting a reputable rescue use the property to rehab/retire horses. It is a complete show horse facility and should really be used.


                      • #12
                        Two of our adopters have asked us for guidance in writing terms for their horses into their wills. In both cases, the adopter now has ownership of the horse, but the adopter has chosen to return the horse to CWER upon their passing. All we have done is help the lawyer to understand how our facility works and what we do, so that the donation can be written in a logical and legal manner.

                        Basically, the adopters have told us they are leaving the horse and all possessions related to the horse to our facility, and it is clearly written and understood that the horse belongs to us outright and we may choose to re-adopt or otherwise make whatever choice makes the most sense for the horse. Each has left a sum of money as a donation to us as well, to help us to care for the horse and to care for other animals that are in our care even if their horse has already predeceased them.

                        We certainly don't require this of our adopters, but any that asks we will explain what others have done. As we are only 6 years old, we've not encountered this situation actually occurring yet. We did, however, have a specific discussion with our board members and we have an explicit agreement with the board that, unless there are truly extenuating circumstances, we agree to accept the donation of one of these horses in the case of the owner's death, even if it means we exceed our board-regulated max head count.
                        AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                        Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)


                        • #13
                          From the other side of the discussion...

                          I have a nasty genetic disorder. I'll likely live to be 100 and a handful, but it's slightly more likely for me to pass before i hit 50 than the average American.

                          We have a TB mare here who is 23 years old and is quite healthy and has great quality of life but is rather high maintenance. In theory she is available as a foster/free lease, but is unadoptable and will almost certainly spend the rest of her life on CWER's facility. For all intents and purposes, Factor is "my horse".

                          Mike and I have talked often of what would happen if Factor outlives me. I have told him that, at times, I feel it would be kindest to factor for them to lay her down, beside me, the day that I pass away. That way no one else is burdened with her care and I know she doesn't have to go through her last years thinking I abandoned her and being alone (she is a very emotional horse who has bonded to me and just about no one else, ever, except my granddaughter who lives a thousand miles away). Mike has promised that, if I ever tell him for certain that is what I wish, he would do so; however, if not, he will care for her as he always has, so long as she has a good quality of life, in my memory.

                          Like someone has said here, I cannot imagine how hard it would be for mike to make the decision to lay her to rest within say a year of my passing, even if it is best for her, so I still struggle often with this thought and whether or not I should make the decision and simply state that I want her laid to rest when I am.

                          Tough thoughts, these. Tough decisions. I am lucky enough to have a very horse dedicated family who would care for this girl, despite her essentially being a pasture pet, for as long as she would have good quality. And that they would care enough not to allow her to suffer "because they love her too much" or, more likely, they loved me too much to let her go.

                          AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                          Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)


                          • #14
                            a pet trust is a good idea- some states honor them, others do not so check out where you live
                            Appy Trails,
                            Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                            member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org


                            • #15
                              Didn't someone post a good trust form from one of the PNW states which recognizes pet trusts? I think it was on a thread this year.

                              Oh wait, someone went riding in Ireland and met a lawyer who had written a book about pet trusts, wasn't the book something like "All My Relatives Wear Fur" or something like that? Maybe a good book to read for trusts. And check the old threads here on coth if they haven't been pruned off.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by baylady7 View Post
                                a pet trust is a good idea- some states honor them, others do not so check out where you live
                                More then half now do. But a trust does not have to be in the state where you live. Think of all the rich people who have trusts out of NY and DE Its where the trust is administered and at least one trustee lives that matters.

                                Honorary trusts for animals was put into the model code in 2006, so many states have adopted that as they update their codes.


                                • #17
                                  Interesting topic. Two of my current boarders (and one past) have told me that they have left their horses to my care with money attached. I can only hope it is reasonably enough, though I would take care of them as my own anyway if push came to shove. Their owners are not old, so hopefully this is unlikely (thank goodness!).


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Nipntuck View Post
                                    Interesting topic. Two of my current boarders (and one past) have told me that they have left their horses to my care with money attached. I can only hope it is reasonably enough, though I would take care of them as my own anyway if push came to shove. Their owners are not old, so hopefully this is unlikely (thank goodness!).
                                    At one of the barns where I boarded as a child, there was a horse living out his retirement in just such a situation. His elderly owner had left a substantial amount of money in her will for his care, with the understanding that the BO would keep him there for the rest of his life. She left enough money to care for the horse until age 35, assuming that it would be plenty. Wouldn't you know it, the old man lived well into his 40s! Luckily, the BO was quite fond of him and had no problem taking care of him after the money ran out.
                                    RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                                    • #19
                                      I agree that you should never trust what anyone will do, especially with money, after you are gone. A trust is the way to go, and definitely it should be written by an estate planning attorney. This is not a do-it-yourself project. I recently read a review of Suze Orman's trust software, conducted by the Wall Street Journal, though just your run-of-the-mill reporter (lay person). They wrote about how great the software was and all the choices they made -- and it was clear to anyone who practices in this area that the reporter had totally screwed up their plan ... but there she was, blathering on about how easy it all was ... they say ignorance is bliss, but not for those you leave behind!

                                      If you are young, you can cheaply do what I did. Go buy a term life policy, guaranteed for a specified term that fits your horse -- say, 10 years, 15 years of 20 years. The premiums are CHEAP. Have the policy pay directly into your trust -- even a pet trust if your state recognizes them, but any well-drafted revocable trust should work. Now, the trust terms control the distribution of the money. And you can get a lot of money on the cheap. If your circumstances change (you sell your horses or they predecease you), a well-drafted trust will be flexible enough to still handle the distribution of the funds for the benefit of the remainder of your heirs.


                                      • #20
                                        No matter how much we COTHrs argue and differ on so many subjects, the one thing we have in common is we are all going to die and we probably don't know when.

                                        For people that are really interested my first series on my blog was about 3 weeks of this issue. Go all the way back in the archives to the start of the blog.

                                        I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But you can plan and you can do it without much money now.