Find an estate plan that works for everyone

Farm Forum

We have made it through yet another year and for most of us it has been one without too many serious things in which to complain about. Yes, each and every family does face some trials and tribulations on a regular basis, but that just keeps things interesting and does indeed make us all stronger in the end. In reality, if we are to truly look at our lives in an honest fashion and put everything into proper perspective…there is much to be thankful for.

With the holidays just behind us and a new year just beginning, we should take the time to reflect on the many good fortunes that have been afforded to us out here in farm country. Good crops combined with decent prices (up until recently that is) definitely helps to keep ones spirits high. But, this is only part of the equation, and while having money in the bank is a darn good thing and the security it brings sure helps ease tensions, there are far more important aspects to our lives that we must be truly thankful for. This of course is our families. After all, isn’t that what gets us up out of bed each and every day as we strive to better our situations? It would be kind of pointless to bust your hump and not have the satisfaction of being able to take what you have built through considerable effort and over numerous seasons and pass it along for the benefit of your loved ones.

That is the real purpose of having a good estate plan in place — to ensure that what you have struggled to acquire and improve on the farm passes fully intact to the family members that will continue the farm’s legacy as well as seeing that those who choose careers and life paths away from the farm are treated in a fair manner as well. This will guarantee that everyone will maintain good relationships and manage to get along for the rest of their lives. This will give you peace and a feeling of calm serenity knowing that you have done your part to not only raise your family, but to leave this world comfortable in the fact that the family you created will continue on without any of the problems that will always arise should you not have a solid plan in place.

I personally see far too much emphasis put on only the legal and financial end of things. Yes, we absolutely must utilize these tools in order to make sure our goals for our families are met in the most cost effective manner possible. But, these are just as I have stated — only tools. Without having a firm and well-thought-out feeling for what is best for all family members, these tools really don’t achieve much unless they are applied and properly structured for the good of everyone involved. For this you need advisors who put their personal agendas and interests aside and truly listen to what you want.

That being said, we are now entering tax season and must decide on the proper financial vehicles in which to place our IRA and SEP contributions. Over the next couple of months I will share some information on one of the most overlooked tools available to us today for these contributions, equity indexed annuities. In a nutshell, they allow you market type gains without any of the risks and your entire principal and earnings are always 100 percent guaranteed. Many advisors will simply not share this with you as there is not a great deal of money to be made for them with these products. But I will.

Dennis Foster has been helping families with financial and estate planning needs for over 20 years. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at 605-887-7069 or