Take the time to transition your farm well

Farm Forum

As we enter the busy fall season, harvest the row crops, and put the finishing touches on yet another year, one needs to slow down and allow some time for reflection on just how fortunate we are to be able to carve out our livings here in farm country. It is also wise to take some time to ponder our roots and just how far farming has come in the last couple of generations and the drastic changes that have occurred in the span of just one average lifetime.

The scope and scale of a modern farming operation as it exists today would have been hard to even imagine in the years following World War II. Not to mention the technological advances we have seen to date and will continue to grow at an exponential pace each and every year forward. Can you envision the look on the face of even the most progressive and futuristic thinking young farmer in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, if you were to try and tell them that drones would soon be scouting their fields or 200 bushel dry land corn was not only a possibility, but often obtainable on a good year? I do believe some stark skepticism would have been conveyed, and quite frankly the person spouting such ideas would have been deemed to be more than just a wee bit off and firmly on the crazy side of the fence.

We do need to put this all in perspective, and although there has been some nearly unbelievable changes, thank God there are some things that seem to remain constant no matter what happens with the techniques and technology involved in raising today’s crops and livestock. Specifically, I am referring to the values and family ties that the vast majority of us hold so dear and are an integral part of our very being. Bottom line is that most of us care for our loved ones and want nothing but the very best for them. That is why we, and the generations before us have worked so hard and made the sacrifices necessary to get to where we are today.

That being said, another thing also remains somewhat constant. That is the reluctance to take the time to sit down with family members and discuss what needs to be done to ensure the farm transitions just as smoothly as possible to those who will continue working the land and to ensure those who have chosen other career paths will be treated fairly.

I find it just as interesting, frustrating, and downright confounding now as when I started my career helping farm families 25 years ago that there are a lot of folks who will put more time and effort into choosing seed varieties or shopping for equipment every year than it takes to conceive, formulate, and implement a workable estate plan that ensures the farm will pass down and continue to operate on a profitable basis, and even more importantly, provide family harmony by guaranteeing that there is absolutely no material reason to squabble.

Most folks just don’t know where to start and need some assistance in not only the financial and legal areas of a good estate plan, but vastly more importantly, in helping them steer through the family dynamics and providing creative ideas and solutions that can customized and implemented into a fail-safe plan for their particular situation and needs.

Please don’t use this an excuse for not taking the action you know must take. Seek out an advisor that puts your needs first and has the experience, expertise, and tools needed to get you and your family where you need to be.

Dennis Foster has been helping families with financial and estate planning needs for nearly 25 years. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at 605-887-7069 or dennis@nvc.net.