Little girls who grow up on the farm have little eyes and little ears. They see and hear what adults discuss and observe the actions taken. This was the case with Wayne’s daughter, Kate.
Wayne was the middle child in his family. He had an older sister, Johanna, and a younger sister, Dawn. As the baby in the family, Dawn was the favored child by Wayne’s parents. When Wayne’s father passed away, he and Johanna wound up in a nasty legal battle with Dawn over the family farm. Their farm had been in the family for more than a hundred years. It spanned more than a hundred acres of farmland, multiple barns, a variety of farm equipment, and the family home. Dawn had forged their father’s signature on a fake will leaving everything to her and nothing for her siblings. While Wayne couldn’t control Dawn’s irrevocable damage to his family relationships, he vowed to do everything in his power to keep her from ruining the legacy of the family farm.
Following steep legal fees, years of litigation, and a strain on each of their families, Wayne and Johanna were able to save the farm from Dawn’s greed. Wayne and Johanna remained estranged from Dawn. Eventually Johanna died from heart disease and Dawn passed away following a battle with cancer, leaving Wayne and his only child, Kate, the heirs to the family farm.
Kate felt lucky to be an only child after watching her father’s battle with his sister for many years. It had ripped the family apart. However, Kate now felt an enormous responsibility, and burden, with continuing the legacy of the farm, and ensuring it stayed in her family with her children.
After college, Kate moved out of state and did not stay in the agricultural business. Wayne built relationships of trust with vetted local farmers who currently lease the land and will be there to help Kate in the future. Wayne has documented everything Kate needs to know, and they regularly review details about farm business. Although Kate is not an expert in farming, Wayne knows she is a savvy businesswoman and will ask questions on what she doesn’t know in order to be prepared to take over leadership of the farm one day.
Although little farm girls may venture from the family farm and follow a different career path, they still need to be prepared to one day become leaders of the farm. Detailed documentation, establishing local agricultural relationships, and delivering clear communication can help your chosen successor make the best choices in the future. Contact us to learn more about preparing your farm’s legacy.