Farm Estate Planning: Be Prepared

Husker Home Place

If you don't write down your farm estate plans, someone else will make that decision for you.

Published on: January 29, 2013
I sat in on an estate planning session by  University of Nebraska Extension educator, Tim Lemmons, at the Crop Production Clinic in Norfolk recently, and learned a few things from Lemmons’ talk. I think many farmers would do well to heed Tim’s advice when it comes to planning the transfer of their assets, in the event that they pass away.

How many families go to war with each other because of farm land and assets? These heartbreaking battles can fracture families, ruin relationships and devastate the individuals involved in ways that their parents would not have wanted.

If producers do not write down their wishes, someone else will make those decisions for them when they pass away. Their assets will be distributed, most likely in ways they would not have wanted.

KEEP DOCUMENTS HANDY: UNL Extension educator, Tim Lemmons, tells producers to keep important documents accessible, in case of emergency.
KEEP DOCUMENTS HANDY: UNL Extension educator, Tim Lemmons, tells producers to keep important documents accessible, in case of emergency.

That is why Lemmons’ information is so important. His main message was that producers should discuss these things with family members before they are under the stress of fatal illness or injury. When everything is fine, that is the time to communicate your wishes with your family members. And that is the time to seek professional advice in estate planning and transitions.

With farm assets more valuable today than ever before, it is important from a tax standpoint and financially, to make sure you get things done right. As Lemmons said, a comma or period out of place on a document can change the meaning completely. When you hire an expert, make sure they are experienced at this type of planning.

Lemmons also made the point that your documents need to be accessible right away in case something unexpected happens. If they are locked away in a safety deposit box and no one knows where the key is, it can take days and weeks to gain access. You want to keep your documents safe and secure, but completely accessible in a moment’s notice if need be.

If you’d like to learn more details about farm estate planning, you will be able to read about Lemmons’ complete presentation in a future print issue of Nebraska Farmer.

Be sure to watch www.nebraskafarmer.com and read our February print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at www.DatelineDrought.com.