Fifty years of existence means 50 years of tilling your farm’s land, harvesting its crops and milking its cows. That is how long your 800-acre farm has been in the family. And you understand that the chances of it remaining in your family another 50 years seem unlikely.

Still, you want to protect your farm’s legacy, your assets as well as family harmony. You wonder how to do that, especially when it comes to farm inheritance disputes. The answer: You head them off at the pass. You anticipated potential problems and unpleasant surprises upon your death, so you have created a will.

Loving to feuding siblings

Time and time again, loving siblings become feuding siblings with contested farm estates. However, probate litigation may be unavoidable even with a will.

Problems may come to a boiling point, especially if at least one of your children has been farming the land alongside you. They may think that they are entitled to inheriting the farm, since they have helped build it, work it and invested in it – not just in labor but in the machinery, cattle and crops as well.

But then the non-farm heirs desire their share, too. Selling the farm is a logical option. Or maybe during the transition after your death, your heirs decide to keep the farm as “headquarters” for annual pheasant or deer hunting trips. Still, resolution is necessary. But, in the meantime, the farm is still in operation and financial decisions must be made.

If your family farm winds up in probate litigation, long-term fallout may result. Such an aftermath involving a family dispute would break your heart. Please understand that the relationships among your heirs – your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – may never be the same.