Despite the rise of corporate farms in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 97% of farms in this country are family-owned, and 88% of all U.S. farms are small family farms. Research suggests that most family farmers—about 80%—intend to pass their farm down to the next generation. A study out of Iowa State University indicated that half of farmers did not have an estate plan, and nearly three-quarters had not chosen a successor to take over the family farm business.
Family farmers are not alone in the tendency to put off estate planning, but that delay can have a disastrous outcome: by some estimates, fewer than a third of family farms continue into the second-generation, and only about 12% continue into the third. Lack of planning is often a primary reason.
You may imagine your children working side by side on the family farm, continuing to build the legacy you left them. Even if this rosy vision materializes, it won’t do so organically. With most businesses, including fam… Read More
We've written before in this space about choosing a probate and estate planning attorney.
Obviously it's important to choose someone who's experienced in estate planning and probate law and who is ethical. But beyond that, does it really make a difference whom you choose?
If one of the assets for which you're planning is a family farm, the answer to that question is an emphatic "yes!"
Family farms are not like other property, for many reasons. Leaving aside financial complexities, family farms, unlike many other assets, have a legacy, a family heritage attached to them.
While it's important to have an attorney who understands what your farm means to you, there is also much more to planning for a family farm than honoring sentimentality. Many economic factors affect the value of a farm from year to year, which could have an impact on estate tax. Like other family businesses,… Read More