Who's Afraid of Legacy Planning?

Our thoughts can be a hurdle when planning for the future of the farm

When it comes to planning for the future of our farm, a number of things could be holding us back from starting. We might not want to think about not being on the farm anymore. We might worry about how others are going to react to our plans for the farm.

I heard about one farmer who said he resisted starting a legacy plan for many years. He didn't want to talk about it with his family. He thought some of his family members were going to react a certain way to what he wanted to do.

The farmer hopes to pass the land and other farm assets to his son, who wants to farm full-time. He thought that his stepchildren, who didn't grow up on the farm and currently have off-farm jobs, would be upset by that.

After a lot of time and worry, the farmer decided to address the issue. He talked directly with his stepkids about the land. They told him – contrary to what he had believed all these years – that they never had any expectations of inheriting the farmland. They weren't upset or angry with their stepdad's plan to transfer the land and assets to his farming son.

RELATED: Land Prices and Your Legacy

The farmer realized that he'd let his own perception and idea of what his stepkids were thinking keep him from protecting the future of his farm. He couldn't believe he'd let that fear hold him back for so long.

Before, he thought the safest thing was to do nothing. But doing nothing is actually the riskiest thing of all in a legacy situation. If he hadn't brought his concerns up to his stepkids, he might never have gotten started on his legacy plan. The plan makes sure that his son will be able to achieve his dream of farming.

Maybe you have some concerns that are holding you back from ensuring the future of your farm. You might be concerned about how your spouse or other family members are going to react. You might feel that you're too young to begin planning. Maybe you don't know where to start.

The main point of a legacy plan is the certainty and peace of mind it can bring a farm family. Everyone knows the farm's transition plan. With a clear, written plan in place, everyone knows the timeline and what's going to happen with the family farm.

ALSO ON FARM FUTURES: Legacy Planning is Really About Others

Working through a plan gets family dynamics and communication issues out in the open. A third party, such as a legacy advisor, works with the whole family to help reduce any future conflict from those issues. A legacy plan that's been well-crafted helps make sure that the family is still in harmony with one another when everything is said and done.

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