Conversation Starters about Estate and Succession Planning for Farms

Rincker Law Estate Planning Leave a Comment

Don’t be afraid to have open and honest conversations with your family about estate and succession planning.   “The only thing certain in life is death and taxes,” Ben Franklin famously said; so let us not make the topic taboo.  In order for a farm or agri-business to successfully pass to the next generation (if that is what you want), clear communication is paramount to devising a successful estate and succession plan.

Here are some conversation starters:

1.  Does everyone have legally operative estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and (if appropriate) a Revocable Living Trust?

2.  Are there any changes that need made to the estate planning documents? When is the last time that everyone has had a formal estate planning review?

3.  Where does your family keep their signed original copies of these documents? I suggest that family members exchange scanned versions of these documents and keep either in a binder that is easily accessible or a jumpdrive on your keychain. It is important that family members have the contact information for the attorney(s) who drafted the documents.

4.  Are there any surprises in the Last Will and Testament that need discussed? For example, is the farm or family business going to be left solely to the children who are actively working on the farm?

5. Is your family prepared for the unexpected? Play out scenarios out over the dinner table.  What if Grandpa died?  What if Father and Mother died tomorrow in a car accident?  Who would manage the farm?  Do those people know where the farm records are kept?

6.  Are there any issues that need to be discussed regarding retirement?

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