Estate planning is necessary to keep the family farm.
You are a man or a woman of the earth.
The land you farm or ranch may have been in your family for generations.
In fact, you have always known the land will outlast you.
According a recent Bangor Daily News article titled “How farmers can start an estate plan,” you will need to create an estate plan to ensure the property remains in your family.
Conversations about death are not pleasant.
Even so, they are necessary when it comes to transferring management and ownership of the family farm.
Without proper estate planning, the consequences are dire.
What do you need to do?
Evaluate your goals.
When it comes to farms and ranches, succession planning is often foundational to the estate plan.
Retirement is not as simple for farmers as it is for those who do office work.
To make the transition smooth, you must first know what you want to happen and what you do not want to happen when you are no longer at the helm.
If your children and grandchildren do not know your wishes, they cannot follow them.
Gather professional support.
A lot goes into running a farm. <Understatement>
You have land, equipment, and livestock.
Passing along a family farm is a large undertaking.
For this reason, having an experienced and trustworthy team is essential.
You should include an estate planning attorney, an accountant, a financial advisor, county extension agent, and an insurance professional.
List out your assets.
Without a list, it may be easy to overlook key assets within your estate plan.
You should include titles of ownership for vehicles, deeds to land, lease agreements, property titles, and information about any mortgages or loans.
If your lease agreement is currently a verbal agreement, be sure to formalize it.
Without a legal agreement, your heirs could find unexpected trouble ahead.
Choose a successor.
You need to seriously consider who you want to run things when you die or retire.
Avoid bringing family politics into the decisions.
Instead, you should select the person who is most qualified, capable, and willing.
Reach out to your estate planning attorney now to simplify the transition of the family farm to the next generation.
Reference: Bangor Daily News (March 5, 2020) “How farmers can start an estate plan”