Fields of soybeans, corn, wheat and other crops are a common sight when driving through Minnesota and North Dakota, and it is easy to see that farming is still a common occupation. However, when these farmers plan their estates, they face some unique concerns.
Is one of your children going to take up the family business?
Many farmers work land that their families have owned for years or even for generations. If one of your children is going to work these fields, your estate plan should give them what they need to continue the family business. This includes transferring ownership of the land and livestock you own as well as the equipment necessary to maintain your farm.
It is important, however, that you discuss farm succession with all of your beneficiaries. Your children who are not going to work the family farm should know about your succession plan, and talking through estate planning with them can ensure that they feel your plan is fair. This can help you avoid disputes in the future.
Do you have a plan in place for what happens if you can't work?
If you are injured in an accident or get sick, do you have a plan in place for your farm? People from all backgrounds neglect this part of estate planning, but it is especially important that farmers have a plan that prepares for incapacity. Establishing power of attorney will allow someone that you trust to make legal and financial decisions for you, including making sales if you are unable to do so yourself or collecting from anyone who has leased your fields.
Have you updated the paperwork on your land?
Especially if you have been farming on your plot of land for years, chances are it has changed since the original deed for the property was written. Whether part of the land was acquired through eminent domain to build a new road or you sold a few acres during a particularly difficult year, it is important that farmers have documentation for what they currently own. As Farm Journal notes, this may involve the additional cost of retitling your land.
If you have questions about estate planning, it can be important to speak to a lawyer that you trust. Not only can they help you create a plan that supports your loved ones, but they can also help you protect your farm for the next generation.