Farmers are well versed in the cyclical nature of life, particularly those who deal with livestock. But thinking about your own demise is different than considering the eventual end of animals bred and raised solely for consumption. Talking about death among family members is difficult. But planning in advance for the next generation will help with survivors' ability to work the land and continue a legacy.
A recent AgriNews article, "Estate planning can lessen grief for survivors," emphasizes that the land is key. It's the heart of the business. Estate planning is about protecting that land.
You should seek the advice of a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney who is well-versed in current estate laws and farm business operations in the state.
This conversation and the plans you make with his or her help could preserve family and business relationships, avoid giving any more to the government than necessary, and provide peace of mind to both you and future generations.
An estate planning attorney may suggest a trust for your specific situation. One common issue with creating a trust without help is that you can miss a legal nuance in the move over process of the property. This will stall execution of a plan, so it's critical that you and your attorney think through the entire process to ensure what you want can happen without any problems.
Another common issue, especially with farmland, is thinking that dividing property equally is what you must do. Not so. If some of the heirs are not farmers, it might be easier to equally divide the money from selling off the land.
Protect your land and help your children, whether they intend to continue to work the land or seek a different business and lifestyle. Meet with an estate planning attorney who can help you with the process so that your wishes may be clarified and documented properly.
Reference: AgriNews (December 31, 2015) "Estate planning can lessen grief for survivors"