“Planning for the end of your life can be intimidating. When you are a farmer, your business is not only your livelihood and your passion, but, often, it is also intermingled with your family life. For that reason, estate planning — arranging for the management of your assets once you die — is especially important for aging farmers.”
The Bangor Daily News explains in its article “How farmers can start an estate plan” that we all know we’re going to die, but it’s not our favorite thing to talk about. However, it’s important to start these conversations.
The article helps aging farmers who want to get started with the estate planning process, by sharing some tips to clear up some of the confusion, eliminate questions in the process and motivate you to begin your estate planning journey.
One expert described the process as a business transition. It is not unlike retirement decisions that somebody might make for a job. However, it is much more complicated, because there are many more resources to address (and perhaps many more people).
Clearly defined goals will make that transition much easier for everyone involved. Memorialize your goals by writing them down, along with your dreams for the transfer of the farm. Don’t forget to include your fears.
A basic estate plan can be as simple as a will, a medical directive and a power of attorney. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to facilitate the various elements of estate planning.
Make a complete inventory of all assets you own, including the deeds to all the tracts of land in your possession.
Identify a successor, so you know who will take over the farm when you die. It’s essential to ensuring the longevity of the farm business you worked so hard to create. As far as transferring your assets in family farm businesses, inter-generational politics can be dicey, when it comes to estate planning. It really boils down to the succession of your farm from one generation to another.
You must be certain to do this in an orderly way to make sure the needs of both generations are met.
If you don’t have a family member interested in taking over the farm, there are local agencies that can help you find young farmers to whom you can sell and who would be able to take over the business.
When it comes to estate planning, it is never too early to begin.
Reference: Bangor Daily News (March 5, 2020) “How farmers can start an estate plan”