If You Fall Over Before Them??

It is 7:00am on a warm, summer morning.

Henry has just finished his morning barn rituals — the horses are fed, their stables are clean. Henry’s mare is peacefully grazing outside while her one-month-old filly prances around her; his two geldings look on.

As he starts his second cup of coffee, he suddenly feels a pain in his chest. ‘Damn that indigestion!’ he grumbles to himself, and calls to his wife; ‘Neryl, where’s those indigestion tablets the doc gave me last week?’ Neryl is somewhere in the back of the house and doesn’t hear his shout so he gets up to find his medication. As he gets up a brush he was using to groom one of his beloved horses falls to the floor from his lap and before he can do anything about it he catches his foot on it and stumbles forward.

Sadly that’s the last we know of Henry as he fell forwards and smashed his head on the kitchen cabinet just 2 metres away.

The bang to the head, and the heart attack he suffered as he fell, was enough to finish poor Henry off.

That was the end of Henry, however, it wasn’t the end of the story for his beloved horses.

2 weeks later the local newspaper has a front page headline stating:

“Horses Seized from Property after Owner Dies.”

Twenty horses were seized following the unexpected death of the man caring for the horses. The man’s widow, not a horse person herself, asked for the horses to be taken away. The horses will be sent to auction. There will be no reserve price on any of them. Some of the horses are old; others are malnourished from improper care since the man’s untimely death. The horses that don’t sell may be euthanized if they cannot find suitable foster homes.

Can you imagine you are reading this one morning in your local paper?

You would probably be in disbelief. How can this happen? Will these horses really be euthanized? Will others be sold to killer buyers? How did the man not plan for this?

You look out the window at your small herd and realize that this could happen to them — you do not have a valid Will or an estate plan. You never even thought about a writing a will. If something happened to you, your horses could meet the same, sad fate.

What happens to my horses if I don’t have an up to date Will and Estate Plan?

If owners do not take appropriate steps to provide for their horses, the consequences can be dire. Without making a will, your horse will become the property of whoever is entitled to inherit from you in accordance with state law. Like the story above, these family members may have no interest in inheriting your horses, and no knowledge of how to care for your horses or how to go about selling your horses in a fair sale

What can I do to protect my horses if they outlive me?

With careful planning, and sound legal advice about making a Will, your horses will be protected if they outlast you. The first consideration in estate planning for your horse is “who” – who among your family, friends, or fellow equine contacts has the desire and knowledge to properly care for or sell your horse?

The next consideration is the “how” –

How should this person take ownership of your horse?

The most simple option is stating in your will that the horse be given to a specific friend or relative.

 

You may want to consider leaving a bequest of cash, or other property, to the person taking the animal to help cover the care of the horse. If your will names specific horses to various individuals, you will need to continuously revise your will, as most people have a succession of horses during their lives.

You can also create a trust for your horse. An increasing number of horse owners are opting for a pet (horse) trust. A pet (horse trust) is a written declaration of how the horse owner wishes their horse to be cared for after the owner’s death. A horse trust ensures care for the horse if the owner dies. A trust can be created whilst you are preparing a will to protect your horses, after your death.

 

By making a Will you are also able to protect all of your assets.

 

In a horse trust, you will name a trustee who will carry out your wishes for the horse(s). You can provide detailed instructions for the distribution of trust funds for the horse’s care. The trust can describe in detail how the funds will be administered and where the remaining assets should go following the horse’s death. This could be to the person you nominate in your Will to look after your horses, an equine charity, or to a local pet (horse) sanctuary.

The trust can contain information about your horse’s conditioning, health issues and food preferences.

Who do I choose as my horses’ Guardian?

When selecting your “horse guardian,” you ideally would want a person who currently owns or has cared for horses in the past. The horse guardian nominated when making your Will can care for your horse in accordance with your instructions set forth in the trust. When preparing the trust, you should carefully consider the cost of care for your horse, and ensure when having your Will prepared that you allow sufficient funds for the trust accordingly.

A horse trust terminates upon the death of the animal. If the trust is established to provide for the care of more than one horse, the trust will terminate upon the death of the last surviving horse.

What are the benefits of establishing a Pet (horse) Trust as opposed to making a simply Bequest of a horse when making your Will?

If you want to give the person who will care for your horse cash to pay for expenses, a trust structure offers more protection for the money and for the horse(s), particularly if there are two trustees.

The trust assets must be segregated from the trustees’ personal assets, and must be used for the horse’s upkeep as directed in the Will trust. If the cash is simply given to the horse’s new owner outright, the cash can be used by the owner, even on the owner’s personal expenses, without limitation. You take your chance that your horse will receive proper care.

In addition, using a trust allows for succession of your “horse guardian.” If you leave your horse to someone outright as part of a bequest and that person dies shortly thereafter, that person’s estate plan determines what happens to your horse. Instead, if you had left your horse to a trust, and the trustee dies or becomes incapacitated, the person that you name as your back-up trustee will take over, and the back-up trustee will continue to administer your trust and to carry-out your wishes.

Conclusion

Although making a Will and taking care of proper estate planning can be daunting, having an experienced and knowledgeable Will and estate planning company or lawyer that is used to dealing with horses, equine and pet issues to guide you through the process will relieve much of that burden. The time and effort to think through and plan these complex issues will assure that your equine family will be protected after your death

If you have horses and have yet to take the steps to ensure they are protected in the event of your untimely passing then contact our team to find out how we can help.

We offer a home visit Will writing service. Fast efficient, friendly and professional consultants will visit you from 8am – 8pm seven days a week. Fixed prices and fast turnaround all aimed at providing you with CONTROL of your assets, PROTECTION of your wealth and prized possessions along with PEACE OF MIND for you and your family.

CALL – 1300 8111 97
EMAIL – team@homevisitwills.com.au

This article was written for Home Visit Wills by Colin Chapman
‘Home Visit Wills ’ is a business owned and operated by Willcraft Services Australia Pty Ltd

ABN 91 118 962 066

www.willcraftaustralia.com.au

PO Box 2149, Subiaco, WA 6904 Australia