Often, a huge question on the minds of both the older and younger generations on the farm is: what's going to happen with the family farm in the future? There are times when neither generation is clear about the plan – maybe even the most central thing of all: who's going to be involved in the farm in the future?
Or maybe that question has already been figured out, but no one is exactly sure how the farm is going to transition to the next generation, and when. And there are really two parts to a farm transition, the management and leadership part and the ownership of assets part. A family may have a plan in place for one of those portions but not the other.
When these questions are stewing in your mind, they hover in the background like a constant worry or ache. What happens to the farm in the future is so important, but it can be really tough to bring up and talk about.
Get the conversation started
So, what are you thinking about doing with the farm when you want to start spending more time in your retirement?
When you're working each day with other family members to get the work done on the farm, that question doesn't typically come up.
There are a few questions that our legacy advisors find work best to get these types of discussions rolling. A family member (usually one involved in the farm) can directly ask other family members these questions, or the family can choose to involve someone else to guide the discussion, such as a legacy advisor.
Here are a few of the questions. Remember: it's important to hear answers from each family member, both on-farm and off-farm.
• If the older generation were to pass away unexpectedly today, what would you want to happen with the farm operation?
• From your understanding, what would happen to the farm operation if the older generation passed away unexpectedly today?
• What do you want the farm to be like in 20 years?
Questions like these can help all family members start thinking about what they really want for the farm's future, and what they need to do now to make that happen. When farm families are proactive in planning for the future they want for their farm and family, they're best equipped to make their hopes a reality.
Want the rest of the questions you can use to get the conversation started in your family? Download your free online copy of 'The legacy talk: How to get started.' It's part of the new summer issue of our quarterly publication, Smart Series.