When it comes to your equines, do not horse around with your estate planning.
I personally do not own a horse.
Gretchen and I enjoyed a relaxing getaway at a wonderful "guest ranch" in Goleta, California, called the Circle Bar B.
What a unique experience. You can read my review on Trip Advisor to learn more.
While growing up, my sisters were our resident horse whisperers.
In fact, both of them continue to own horses to this day and one gives riding lessons to children.
Truth be told, I was never much of a cowboy (although sometimes I pretend on vacation).
Fortunately for you, thehorse.com recently provided some advice in an article titled “Estate Planning Tips for Horse Owners.”
Whether your horses are for racing, teaching lessons, breeding or companionship, you need to plan for their future after you have passed.
What specifically should you consider?
Naming a responsible party.
Whether you are naming a beneficiary or an executor, select an individual who knows horses.
This will provide a smoother transition, and you will have the confidence of knowing that the person you select will make wise decisions on behalf of your horses.
Selling the horses.
Would it be best for you to sell or gift the horses?
If your horses are retired or have special needs, selling may not be a viable option. Instead, you will want to choose a beneficiary and set aside money for their care.
If your horses are racehorses, they could be sold to increase the monetary value of your estate.
You would have to decide whether you would prefer the transaction to take place via a private sale or at an auction.
Appraising horse related belongings.
If you have trophies, saddles or farm equipment, you should get them appraised before you die.
Obviously, I do not have that dilemma.
Considering your land.
If you cannot stand the idea of your riding trails becoming commercial real estate, you may want to include a conservation easement.
What is this?
It is a legal agreement limiting development and uses of a specific piece of land. These often include land preservation and income tax benefits.
Still, you need to consider all the implications.
With a conservation easement, you may lower the value of the land and make it difficult for heirs to sell.
Passing along the business.
If your horses are also your business, you need to do decide what will become of your business after you have passed.
Is there a capable employee or skilled adult child who could take over?
If your plan is to pass the reigns to your business, you will need to do proper business succession planning.
Although planning for your horses does require some special considerations, the fundamentals of estate planning still apply.
Know what you own and who you want to take care of your horses and other belongings when you can no longer do so yourself.
By the way, the Circle Bar B has been owned by the same family for three generations, so they have planned well.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to put your wishes in writing through a will or trust before you ride off into the sunset.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: thehorse.com (July 17, 2016) “Estate Planning Tips for Horse Owners”