Farmers are hard-working, tough-minded individuals. When others are winding down into their retirement years, farmers are often still working as hard as ever. Planting crops, feeding and milking cows, repairing equipment and a thousand other tasks are accomplished every year by those in the farming community. Most farmers want to pass down their farm to other family members, but some postpone doing the actual legal paperwork and other tasks until it is too late. Then a legal nightmare often occurs with the farm, livestock and valuable equipment all being sold off to satisfy a probate court.
Although it might be difficult to face one’s own eventual mortality, it is critical to take some time to research and do what needs to be done in order to properly preserve your farm’s legacy. Many farmers have successfully passed down their treasured farm throughout multiple generations, with each generation adding on their own unique stamp. If you want a successful transition someday, the time to make it happen is now.
One of the best ways to ensure your legacy continues is to speak directly to family members to let them know what your wishes are and to find out what they would like as well. Often this change over time, so be flexible and be prepared to make changes. Sometimes a son or daughter seems to have no interest in the farm until they have a family of their own. Then they decide they would like to give their own children experiences like seeing a calf being born or raising horses.
Seek Legal Help
The biggest planning mistake is to not have any legal planning done. Contact a professional, such as a lawyer or financial planner who is experienced with farm estate planning. They can advise you on the best way to safely pass down your assets to family members while avoiding paying unnecessary taxes as much as possible. They can also draw up the proper legal documents such as a will, a trust or quitclaim deed(s).
It is always a good idea to meet with your financial expert at least once a year to discuss any significant changes in your farm. If you want to know more about planning for your farm’s succession, please contact us.