What’s My Horse Really Worth?

Sometimes circumstances make it necessary to determine the actual monetary value of a horse. If an owner purchases a mortality insurance policy on a horse, for example, it is necessary to know approximately how much it will cost to replace
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MasterCard hasn’t actually featured horses in their commercials yet, but the sentiment of this fanciful advertisement should strike a familiar chord with most horse owners. No matter their material worth in dollars and cents, our horses are priceless–at least to us.

Sometimes, however, circumstances make it necessary to determine the actual monetary value of a horse. If an owner purchases a mortality insurance policy on a horse, for example, it is necessary to know approximately how much it will cost to replace the animal if it dies. If an owner decides to sell a horse privately or at auction, the asking price or reserve bid should represent at least a well-educated guess about the animal’s actual value. If a horse is killed as a result of the negligence of another person, such as the owner of a farm where the horse was being boarded, the value of the animal likely will be a major point of contention in a lawsuit.

Determining the value of a horse also can be necessary in other, less-obvious situations. Division of personal property is an issue in most divorces, amicable or not, and the court will need to be able to assign a realistic dollar amount to the parties’ horses. Estate and tax planning also will be affected by the value of assets, including horses.

In each of these examples, the value of the horse in question is based on the animal’s legal status as personal property. The insured value of a horse for purposes of a mortality policy, for example, is the replacement cost, or the amount of money it will take to replace the horse with a similar one. Replacement cost also is relevant for a horse killed due to another person’s negligence or for a horse that is being sold. In the divorce, estate planning, and tax contexts, a horse, like any other piece of property, is an asset whose value must be determined with a high degree of accuracy

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Written by:

Milt Toby was an author and attorney who wrote about horses and legal issues affecting the equine industry for more than 40 years. Former Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association’s Equine Law Section, Toby wrote 10 nonfiction books, including national award winners Dancer’s Image and Noor. You can read more about him at TheHorse.com/1122392.

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