A couple of weeks ago, my friend and Stamford, Texas-based attorney James Decker shared a music video on Twitter. His Twitter feed is semi-famous for sharing excellent info, so I gave “S Lazy H” by Corb Lund a listen. And I was just blown away by the truthfulness of this song and the lessons that could be taken from the lyrics. It is essentially a song about what happens when a farm/ranch transition from one generation to the next goes wrong.
This story is heartbreaking, and all too common. The song brings up issues that agricultural estate planning attorneys see every day–lack of liquidity, off farm heirs, equal versus equitable distribution, and so forth. It is critical that farm and ranch families have a well-reasoned estate/transition plan in order to avoid a result like that in the song.
It can be overwhelming just trying to figure out where to start the process. And, unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” plan that will work in every situation. However, there are some great online resources to help folks in getting started with developing the right estate/transition plan for your operation.
- Farm Transitions Workbook. Dr. Shannon Ferrell at Oklahoma State University led the way in developing this workbook to help folks through the farm transition process. Additionally, their website offers a host of links to various additional information and content on this topic.
- Recorded UMD Webinar. Last year, Dr. Ferrell offered a free webinar hosted by the University of Maryland focused on farm transition planning. This hour-long video offers great, practical information for farm and ranch owners.
- Legacy Project. Farm Journal has a wonderful website featuring various articles, worksheets, case studies, FAQ’s, and tools to help farm families in developing transition and estate plans.
- Ag Transitions. The University of Minnesota has a website to help folks put together a farm and ranch estate plan, which does require a user to register and log in to access information.