So, you are ready to retire. You’ve worked hard for many years and you now look forward to spending time with grandchildren, fishing, golf or taking that long-delayed trip to Hawaii. However, there are just a couple problems that may need to be resolved. First, who will take over the farm?
If you or someone you love is a farmer, then you know the special challenges that generally come with estate planning and, more specifically, the succession of the farm. Planning for your estate and for your family is a difficult concept, but it’s ever more difficult when it means planning for the land itself.
A recent article from Drovers Cattle Network titled, “Commentary: Can you retire?” offers an interesting perspective on the farmer’s estate planning challenges. In the end, whether bovine, equine, or straight up agricultural, the problems are the same. Farms are living places in every sense of the word; any overseen gap in a farm is like a missed heartbeat.
Will there be a missed beat or two between yourself and the next land cultivator? If yes, it may be more than either you or the land (the herd, the flock, or what have you) can bear. Planning for the farm succession is no easy feat in these generations, especially with youth more and more concentrated in urban locations/lifestyles and the farm a perennial casualty to the estate tax.
It’s important to remember that any successful farm transfer is one that will have to begin early, with a well thought-out plan. How to transfer the farm is another matter, and a complicated one depending on your potential heirs, or buyers, and the farm itself.
You owe it to yourself and to the land to appreciate these difficulties and form a full-fledged plan to deal with them. Be sure to engage competent legal counsel experienced in working with agricultural assets and farming families.
Reference: Drovers Cattle Network (May 28, 2012) “Commentary: Can you retire?”