Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Continuing a Legacy - The Time to Start is Now!


Whether you have a family owned farm or a family business, preparing for the next generation is a crucial part of continuing the legacy.  Building that legacy can be a lifetime of achievement or start many generations back in your family.    
For us this comes to mind as time seems to be fluttering by here on the farm and before we know it that young daughter we now have will be heading off to college or choosing to work at the farm.  

So how can we extend the legacy that has been in the family farm for four generations we ask ourselves.  Milton and I attended a free informative meeting this week to bring this to the forefront of our thinking.  We have had discussions but never really in detail.  Although we are what most might call young in the farming community (44 and 48) it is now when we need to begin preparing for the future of the farm. 

At this meeting various things were mentioned. Anything from inheritance taxes to splitting up the farm equally amongst children that are non-farm workers and those that do farm, and how you have options in making the right choice that it is done well.  Each farm or business is different and each one is a case by case basis.   

The world is ever changing and just as we do not farm like we did 50 years ago, one can not ignore or not plan to help the generations ahead when speaking of the future farm. If this legacy is to continue, it just has to be planned well.

There a many options available to help farmers and business owners make the transition easier on the coming generations. It will also provide peace of mind to the current generation, knowing that no one is put in a hardship or have family squabbles or lose what they built up in their lifetime.

Since recently becoming more active in our farming operation by doing the farm books I see the amount of money that is needed to run it.  I can see how much equipment costs, repairs cost, land rent, fertilizer and chemical costs are. All with land not becoming available or if so one can only buy if they are more than "average" farmer.   We are an average farm size I believe and average suits us.  But being average also means that planning is important. That helping the next generation not feel  overwhelmed or lose what they have spent their life working for, means we need to plan now. 




I'm sure it is difficult for some to begin making plans for the future.  There are those that do not like to pre-plan their own funeral but in doing so it helps the ones they leave behind.  Then we have the folks that prepare and plan exactly how things should be.   Just as there are different types of businesses and farms, there are several opinions and choices.  If you have planned, be sure to review the plan periodically.

My point of this post today is to begin the discussion in your family farm or business about the future.  Even if it seems a long way off it is a positive move to plan.  Using the resources available through your accountant, attorney, financial planner, and insurance agent will be a good start.  For example if you are a Farm Bureau member, there is  a free benefit where they will collect your data and show you where you stand.  It's an option, just one, but it's still available.

Thanks for stopping by!
Julie & Milton




* All opinions are my own and not Farm Bureau Financial Services.