Estate planning: Mother knows best

Dennis Foster
Special to the Farm Forum

I have stated several times — and it certainly bears repeating — the whole estate planning process is about people, not just numbers. With some proper advice, the numbers will take care of themselves. It is up to you, to take care of your family and the farm.

Since people actually need to do something to accomplish anything, I will pass along one recurring theme I witness that inspires action. That is when what I will deem as the female quotient and the maternal instincts kick in, things happen. Males generally get so caught up in a narrow focus on the whole providing thing that they lose sight of the big picture — the protection aspect. Yes, Dad will fight off a gaggle of grizzly bears in order to protect his family. But make him face down some feelings, and you may just get a tail-between-the-legs retreat and some quick excuses as to why there is no time or this is not the right to time to discuss the subject.

This is when a decidedly different approach is needed — one that benefits from being rooted in emotions and feeling. A feminine touch does just that. Mom has an abundance of the kind of experience needed. This is gained from years performing behind-the-scenes, often unnoticed activities — playing the role of a referee, disciplinarian, confidant and even nurse, when need be. She becomes immersed in and fully understands the intricacies of family dynamics — just the skills needed to navigate through any rough waters and sensitive subjects that need to be addressed.

Although many females do not play an active role in the daily, physical part of farming, they are an integral part of the operation. They perform other much needed tasks that can vary as widely as running for parts to tackling the ever-expanding pile of paperwork required to run today’s farms. This is truly a partnership. Division of labor and talents helps guarantee the whole operation remains viable and profitable.

Mom brings the rest of the team (i.e. the family) together as well. She is kind of a quiet coach — and if forced, not so quiet. We might as well face the fact that despite how much modern society blurs the lines, we still have decidedly gender specific roles to play. And, this is not outdated or unsophisticated. It is natural. Evolution has dictated specialization as a key component in advancement. Females are genetically programmed to be superior in caregiving and, even more telling, in nurturing. It is a proven advantage, and it’s how it is, how it has been and will always be. It just works. Don’t question it and darn sure don’t fight it.

Mother knows best, and when it relates to the very children she carried and bore, this is unquestionably true. I have found when conferring with families, women’s insight as to how best to approach and solve family issues is exactly what is needed to put things into perspective. They allow for a calm and emotionally unbiased approach to reaching the decisions needed to complete a successful plan.

If this unabashedly appears to be appealing to the ladies out there, it most certainly is. By far, the most important aspect of my career is to stir things up a bit and inspire action. Mom is most likely the one to see that this happens. As I am a male myself, I can point out the short comings of those of us carrying the masculine chromosome.