What Happens If You Go Riding Off Into The Sunset Before Your Horse Does?

21 April 2015
 Categories: Finance & Money, Blog


If you are a horse owner, have you ever wondered what would happen to your horse if you die before it does? Planning for the care of your horse in the case of your untimely demise is an important part of your estate arrangements. It's also a good idea to have a plan for your horse in case you become ill or injured and can no longer care for it.

Read on to learn some important considerations involving estate planning for horses:

Basic Arrangements

While horses are considered personal property, like cars, in the eyes of the law, most horse owners see them more like pets or even family members. As such, you want to make sure your horse is properly cared for in the event you can't. If formally declaring your wishes in a legal document isn't feasible for you, you should at least designate someone to care for your horse and write down specifics.

You can also include this information in your will, but the problem with this is that between the time of your death and the time probate is executed, there is no clear path for the care of the horse. This is especially problematic if the horse is a working horse (a rental horse or show horse, for example) that needs to continue generating income for the family.


A better idea than designating horse care in your will is setting up a legal trust for the horse. A living trust can be put into action before probate and can even be used if you are ill or incapacitated.

With a living trust, you create a fund to provide for the lifetime care of your horse and name a trustee to manage it.

Some states also allow pet trusts as standalone trusts or as part of living trusts. You may want to consult with your attorney or financial planner to find out if this option exists where you live.

There are two advantages to pet trusts. First, they allow you to make provisions for any remaining money if the horse dies before it is used up. Second, you can fund a pet trust with your life insurance, so your horse is ensured sufficient care for years to come.

Other Important Considerations

When thinking about your horse and estate planning, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Consider where the horse will be cared for. If the horse is to stay on your property, your trust or other arrangements will need to be tied to the disposition of your ranch or farm land .
  • A court can override your trust bequest amount if it feels it is unreasonably high or if it leaves human dependents destitute.
  • The court cannot enforce a trust if the person you name as trustee no longer wants the responsibility for your horse.

It's important to make provisions for your horse's care in the event you are not around or able to offer it yourself. And if you have more than one horse, the need is even more urgent. Take the time now to meet with your financial planner and other parties involved, and you'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing no matter what, your four-legged friend will be in good hands.

For more help, contact a professional to get help with farm and ranch estate planning.