Looking the Horse Gift in the Mouth; Unique Aspects of Pet Trusts for Horses

When developing an estate plan in New York, horses are sometimes treated differently than some of the more common pets, such as cats and dogs, because horses generally have a longer life and are generally more expensive to care for.  Moreover, some horse owners will attest to the fact that each horse has its own personality, dietary needs and veterinary needs.  Therefore, while a cat or dog may be gifted to the testator’s relative with a sum of money sufficient for its care, a pet trust may be more appropriate for a horse.  The risk of not having a pet trust is that the heirs may sell the horses at auction, may not properly care for the horses, and may choose to euthanize the horses in lieu of caring for them.

In the pet trust, the horse owner/grantor can set aside enough money to care for the horse for the remainder of the animal’s expected life.  The grantor may designate the barn or stable in which the horse is to be kept, the type of feed, frequency and manner of grooming and veterinary care, washing, exercise, whether and what type of competitions, tack, washing, fly control, trailer, and frequency of being turned out into the paddock or grazing in the pasture, and where the horse will spend the winter.

The grantor may also name a backup caretaker for the horse if the primary caretaker becomes incapacitated or dies.

If the grantor has more than one horse, the grantor may specify which horses will share the same paddock or be exercised together.

Any funds left after the death of the horse may go back into the owner’s estate or be given to charity such as a horse rescue, equine assisted psychotherapy or similar not-for-profit organization.

Based on the foregoing, a pet trust may be appropriate for certain horses and can be structured to effectuate the owner’s wishes for the horse after the grantor’s death.

If you have any questions about pet trusts, estate planning or any other trusts and estates related issue, please do not hesitate to call us at (914) 338-8050.

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The Law Offices of Keith R. Betensky, Esq.
The Empire Building
26 Village Green, Suite 4
P.O. Box 22
Bedford, New York 10506-0022
(914) 338-8050

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