Farm's Important Documents Should Be Accessible Immediately

In case of emergency, family members will need those papers to deal with transition questions.

Published on: Feb 7, 2013

Farmers and ranchers should have all of their most important documents readily  available to their spouse or children, in case of emergency. That's what Tim Lemmons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator, told producers attending the annual UNL Crop Production Clinic in Norfolk recently.

"You should make sure that your documents are within reach in 30 to 60 seconds, just in case something unexpected happens," he said.

Having estate and asset information will help family members deal with the financial issues that come up when the emergencies take place.

He explained that, in some cases, if documents are locked away in a safety deposit box, it takes family members days and even weeks to gain access to those important papers.

Farms Important Documents Should Be Accessible Immediately
Farm's Important Documents Should Be Accessible Immediately

Lemmons encourages producers to make their secured documents available immediately to family members who will need them if an emergency takes place.

In planning farm estate transactions or how farm assets will be transferred to family members, Lemmons says producers should seriously ponder several key considerations:

•Know what you own. While that sounds simple, Lemmons said it is important to list bank accounts, retirement assets and everything that a producer owns.

•Know how you own it. He told producers that some assets are owned jointly with a spouse or other family members. Some assets may carry loans against them with financial institutions. This should all be written out.

•Know when you will transfer ownership. Lemmons said that developing a plan to transfer assets at death or at some point before that also is important.

•Know to whom you will transfer it. List out the names of the beneficiaries for each asset.

He said that producers should check their beneficiary lists for bank accounts, retirement accounts and investments, to make sure those lists are current and that the people on the lists are still the ones they wish to transfer their property to.

"You need to know who will get the property and how they will get it," he added. "Seek educational opportunities to help you prepare for when you talk to an expert. And know what you want to do before you talk to your lawyer."

He suggested seeking out professional legal advice from people who can best help producers reach their goals for their assets.

To learn more about developing farm transition or estate plans, contact Lemmons at 402-370-4061 or email tlemmons2@unl.edu.