Hey Dad, What's the Estate Plan?

Prairie Gleanings

The holidays are a great time to discuss succession planning. Make sure the whole family knows the plan.

Published on: November 21, 2012
Tomorrow, there will be turkey, gravy, potatoes, football and pie.

Somewhere in there, you’ll also have time for family discussion and fellowship. With the uncertainty surrounding estate taxes, you may have an opportune time to approach this difficult subject.

For many in the older generation, this may be the last thing you want to discuss. After all, it does remind you of your own mortality. However, if you’ve got a son or daughter farming with you, you’re not just talking about what happens after you die. You’re discussing their future. You’re laying out the plan for your grandkids too.

Still don’t want to share the farm’s future with the family? Why not? Is it unfair? If you think it could create a family feud, imagine the situation in which you’re placing your farming heir. Put the cards on the table now.

And folks, let’s not put our head in the clouds and assume the kids will just work it out. Let’s say your kids are in their 40s. If they left the farm at 18, they’ve been away for longer than they spent growing up there. If they married in their 20s, they’ve been listening to their spouse’s advice for almost 20 years now. Point is, what seemed fair to a 17-year-old living on the farm may be different than a 45-year-old who’s been off the farm for 20+ years.

What about that 48-year-old son who’s been farming with you since he graduated college? Do you listen to his advice with other stuff on the farm? I’m guessing you do. So, why would estate planning be any different? You both want the family farm to remain in the family. He may have key insight on how to make things equal and fair for the other siblings.

Tomorrow is a great opportunity to discuss these issues. The future of your family is on the line. And, remember, once this is all set in motion, mom and dad are the only voices that won’t be at the table. So, sit down now and make your opinions known.