Whilst driving my horse-box home my mind wondered to work and how my day job of writing Wills, and dealing with estates, crosses over with my more important hobby of horse riding. I always ask my fellow equestrians whether they have made a Will and the all too common answer is no. When I ask why I get an array of answers, but the most common ones being I am too young, it won’t happen to me, the cost and not wanting to tempt fate!
As a private client solicitor I get to see the issues that arise for families when a person has not written a Will, so I wanted to put down some of the benefits of writing a Will for my fellow horse lovers with the hope of persuading people that making a Will is a vital part of organising your affairs when you own animals.
When making a Will you can make provision for:
- Who will receive your financial assets when you die. This may be land, stables, your house or simply the money in your bank. With complicated family structures now being common who will inherit your estate should be a considered decision and not left to statutory provisions.
- Who you want to leave your beloved horse(s) to in the event of your death? In many cases this may not be the person you leave your finances to in a basic Will and so provision should be considered as a separate matter. If you would not leave your horse to your next of kin/spouse/partner who would take care of them on your death and would this be a gift to them or, given the value of some competition horses, is there to be a payment to your estate?
- If you are gifting your horse/pony to someone, is there to be a financial provision made for that person as well and/or is there to be provision for tack and equipment to be passed to this person. Given the eye watering figures you can pay for Saddles these days these ‘assets’, classed as a ‘chattel’, could be worth as much as a car so there should be some thought given as to whether you have any specific wishes for these items (which many of us have collected over numerous years!).
- Tax planning. Have you considered your Inheritance Tax (IHT) position on death? Planning for IHT can be vital to ensure that the next generation can retain the family equestrian home, equine business or equestrian centre. No one would want their child/children to have to sell the equestrian property or business to pay tax on a parent’s death when it could have possibly been prevented by planning during your lifetime.
- Your burial wishes. In this country, due to strict regulations on burials, you cannot be buried with your animals, but many people have specific wishes for their ashes to be scattered in a favourite place or with those of their animals. Whilst they are not legally binding, your specific wishes can be recorded in your Will.
Horse riding is inherently a dangerous sport (which admittedly most of us choose to ignore!) but getting your affairs, equestrian or otherwise, in order can never be a bad thing. So, if you would like to have an informal, no obligation, chat about your Will or estate planning I would be delighted to discuss your options with you. Please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01242 801748.