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Don't Forget Your Horse In Your Estate Plan

If your horse has been an important part of your life, don't forget to take him or her into consideration with your estate plan. Yes, it is a possibility that your horse could outlive you, and if that happens, you want to make sure that your horse continues to receive the best possible care. So how does this happen?

Make sure your instructions are clear

Write down what you would like to happen with your horse in the event that you die first. You can do this in a will, but after you die, a will has to go through probate, and during that time, your horse will still need food, shelter, water and care. You can make sure your horse is cared for in the interim period by creating a letter of last instructions providing practical instructions about how to care for your horse. This letter can specify, for example, who should take care of the horse, and important details about how you prefer that happen. A letter of last instructions is not legally binding, but it can be helpful in that it provides clear direction about your wishes instead of leaving loved ones to scramble to figure out care for your horse.

Paying for your horse's care

There are several ways you can handle the finances surrounding your horse's care. Those who race horses or employ horses in another capacity for a business may simply want to sell the horse, which they can do before death or make provisions for in a will and/or letter of last instructions. Those who keep horses recreationally, however, may prefer to provide financially for the horse's care. You can do that by establishing a trust, which can be changed during your life (revocable trust), or establishing a trust for your horse in your will. You can choose to distribute the funds for the horse's care over time, or even provide a sum as a gift for the person charged with your horse's care.

Talk to a lawyer

Your situation and relationship with your horse are unique, so it can help to discuss with an experienced estate planning lawyer what the best options might be for you. If your horse is a part of your family, make sure your estate plan reflects it!

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