Tags: Agriculture

When should you revisit your farm estate plan

“You need an estate plan.”  The statement is repeated over and over to farmers like a Johnny Cash record in my favorite hometown bar.  The important question for many farmers however, is “What we should do after we get one?”

The short answer is: Start thinking of your estate plan like you think of spring planting in its most basic form.  

1) Analyze your yields and plan your inputs.  Take some time each year (maybe not during planting season, of course) to think about what your goals are for your estate plan.  Do you want to ensure Tom gets to farm the 80 that has been in the family for generations? Do you want to make sure your spouse has enough income to continue the lifestyle for which the two of you have been accustomed? What about the grandkids?  Are estate taxes a concern? Having liquid funds? The ultimate question here should be if these goals have changed since your estate plan was created.

2) Get your equipment ready. Think about what important family events have happened since your estate plan was created.  Births?  Deaths?  Divorce? Debt? Taxes? Formation of companies? Family arguments?  These are tools to facilitate a discussion with your spouse and/or attorney.

3) Get your ground ready.  Gather documents that have impacted your plan, such as court papers, tax returns, corporate documents or investment account statements.

4) Plant. Meet with your attorney.  Make sure there are no surprises for your plan—no one wants a case of Northern Corn Leaf Blight.

5) Maintain the crop. Give the plan a watchful eye, a little encouragement, and pray for rain (or for the rain to stop).

Estate plans are living, breathing beings, just like the corn and beans going into the ground in the next several weeks.  Caring for your estate plan like you care for your crop will yield much better results for your family in the long run. If you’d like to know more about this blog, or agricultural estate planning, please contact one of our attorneys at info@goosmannlaw.com. For any other questions or comments, contact Goosmann Law Firm below. 


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