Wills and Trusts

These specify what you want to happen to your horses when you die and how that will be paid for. If you have no legal paperwork and have made no other plans, your horses are considered part of your estate and will be dealt with as any other asset – house, car, furnishings. The state will dispose of it in the most convenient manner, which can include taking it to auction. Talk to an estate lawyer to decide what options are available.

Leaving someone your horse in your will sounds like a good idea. However, if you plan to leave money from your estate to pay for your horse’s care, be aware that it won’t be available until the estate has gone through probate. That’s the legal term for making sure all the debts and financial details are satisfied. That could take a few months to a few years. If the debts are higher than the value of the estate, the new owner of the horse must take on all financial obligations.

A trust is a little different. It specifies who gets your horse but it provides immediate funding. That’s usually a set amount to be paid out over a given length of time. That comes directly and immediately from your estate.

If nothing else, write a detailed letter detailing what you want for your horses, who will care for it, how the bills will be paid, and all other details. Make sure the other people involved in these decisions agree. Have everyone sign it. Having it notarized is not a bad idea. Put it with your important papers. It is not a legal document, but it does give some evidence of your wishes.


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