Those involved in dressage, racing and breeding may build their entire livelihoods around the horses that they own. Countless other Americans dedicate a significant portion of their income and free time to the maintenance of their horses.
Unlike many other companion animals, which may sometimes live only a decade, horses can easily live 20 years and sometimes as long as 30 years or more. As a result, regardless of your age, it’s time to question whether your horses will have the support and care that they’ll need after you pass.
Long-term needs make creating a trust a smart move
Horses are uniquely expensive to care for in terms of the food they require, their exercise needs and their housing. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep horses healthy and happy, and not everyone will accept such responsibility on behalf of a deceased loved one.
You will need to spend some time thinking about who could care for your horses and what kind of support they need. A trust is a way of providing resources for the horses and possibly even reimbursement for their caregiver’s time and energy. The trustee can be a separate individual who oversees the relationship to ensure that the horses receive the care that they require and that there is no misuse of the resources allocated for your animals.
Your trust can establish very clear standards of care and can even provide instructions for what should happen to the remainder of the assets when the horses eventually pass of natural causes or potentially go to live with other breeders or enthusiasts.
Animals do not make good beneficiaries
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to provide for their companion animals in estate plans is to name the animals as beneficiaries. Animals do not have the same rights that people do and typically cannot own property.
Those who bequeath assets to an animal put it at risk of being euthanized or abused by those who would like to access or control those assets. A trust is a much better means of ensuring that animals have human support and financial resources even after their original owner dies.
Thinking about those that depend on you, like your horses, and then creating estate planning documents, like pet trusts, can help you to ensure that those you love can live a good life even after you die.