For many with pets – dog and cats – consideration of who gets our beloved furry friends has become an important estate planning issue. Who will care when you’re not there?
It is important to plan for a home and care for these pets. Selecting a kind and caring individual that you trust is critical to the continued well-being of your dog or cat. Yet, this is less complex than larger animals – after all, the animal can be taken into a home and cared for becoming part of a new family. The amount to set aside for food, care and veterinarian fees is fairly modest.
This becomes more complex for horse owners. While you may love your horse as much as the dog or cat owner loves their animals, it isn’t as easy as taking the animal into another home. Horses require property and a constant, daily care that is more complex and time consuming than feeding a cat.
Have you planned for a disability? If you are temporarily disabled and in the hospital, do you have someone who will step in immediately to care for your equine friends? A well-meaning friend that is not familiar with the care of horses may not understand what is required. After all, this involves more than putting out a bowl of kibble once a day.
Are there funds available to pay for supplies, food, and vet bills that can immediately be accessed? Have you appointed an individual to immediately step in and take over this financial component?
Upon your death, how will your horse be cared for? Have you discussed this issue with the individual(s) that you would select to care for the horse? Are they willing and able to assume this responsibility? A large dog may only live for 10 years while a horse may live to 20 or 25 years.
How will the financial responsibility be taken care of? If you leave a stipend in your Will to the individual, the money may be distributed; however, there will be no continued oversight after your estate is closed. There will be no legal assurance that the caregiver will actually continue to care for your horse.
You may want to consider having a trust in which the trustee is able to pay for the ongoing costs associated with the upkeep and care of your horse so long as it is cared for. If the ownership is transferred to yet another individual, the trustee can then continue to make funds available to that new owner.
Who will care when you’re not there? Responsible loving owners of horses as well as dogs and cats must plan for the care of their beloved friends if they are not available due to disability or death.