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California Estate Planning Lawyer: Equine Estate Plans


Last updated 3/3/2021 at 10:49am

Horses, as much as they may seem like free-willed souls, are still considered property by law. They’re also high-maintenance property, and unlike many other types of pets, horses are an investment that requires a lot of time, money, and land. You put a lot into taking care of your horses. Your horses should be handled carefully in your estate plan so you can continue to care for them.

What will happen to my horses if I don’t create a plan?

If you die intestate (without a will or estate plan) your horses will go to your heirs. They’ll decide what to do with your horses. If you don’t have any heirs, or if your heirs don’t accept your horses, the state will take possession of them. However, even if your heirs do accept your horses, they’ll go through probate with the rest of your property. Your heirs may not take possession of them until your estate is settled.

Who Will Ride Your (Tame} Horses?

It’s a good idea to designate heirs who are willing and ready to take care of your horses. Even if your heirs already have horses, a farm, or a pasture, it’s best to let them know that you intend them to get the horses so they’re not taken by surprise. Make sure that they actually would want the horses and can care for them. You wouldn’t want to be humored now only to have your horses sold or given away years down the road.

Selling Your Horse

You can always sell your horses, even though you hate the very idea. You can also designate in your estate plan that your horses be sold and that your heirs take some or all of the proceeds. The only problem with that, of course, is that you don’t have any control over your horses’ care once they’re sold.

Pet Provisions in Your Estate Plan

Perhaps one of the most popular options for horse owners is to create a pet trust. A pet trust names a guardian and provides assets to care for the horse. A pet trust can be created and executed at any time and end whenever you’d like. For example, you could have a pet trust go into effect if you become legally incapacitated or disabled. You can also have it end when the horses die or when you’re able to care for them again. The assets in the trust would go back to your estate.

There are many options to ensure that your horses are well cared for, and we want you to know that our attorneys are here to help you chart out a plan that works best for your family and the horses that you cherish. We have offices located throughout the state of California to help you begin to put such a plan in place. We also have video appointments available for your convivence.

– Robert Galliano, Attorney at Law, Copenbarger & Copenbarger, LLP