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Farm owners advised to communicate estate planning goals with heirs

Land is a limited resource and one that is often in high-demand. For Ohio farmers, land represents much more than just an opportunity to potentially make money; it represents a way of life that has often been passed down for generations.

Farming, however, is not for everyone and even the children of some life-long farmers may not wish to follow in their parents' and grandparents' footsteps. It's important, therefore, that farm owners take steps to plan for the succession of a family farm and communicate such plans to family members.

Farm land and farming operations come with a high price tag. Unfortunately, for farmers, much of their assumed wealth is often tied up in costs related to equipment, the maintenance of livestock and crops and general operating costs. These are all factors that much be taken into consideration by farm owners when establishing an estate plan.

An estate plan can also address concerns related to ownership and shared equity when parents plan to leave a farming operation to more than one child. Likewise, taking steps to address estate planning matters can help parents ensure for the financial security of heirs regardless of their decisions to continue or stop farming.

The death of a loved one can stir up many emotions and lead to estate disputes between siblings who don't agree about the future of a family farm. It’s important, therefore, that regardless of one's plans about the succession or selling of a family farm, that farm owners and their family members take steps to openly communicate their wants, wishes, concerns and plans.

Source: Farmland Information Center, "FARM TRANSFER AND ESTATE PLANNING," 2015

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