Michigan Farm Bureau

01/22/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2018 19:13

2018 Take Root Succession Planning – Keeping the family and farm intact

Few things in life can be more satisfying than watching a family farm operation grow and prosper as siblings and multiple generations make the decision to return to the farm and become active partners. Sadly, nothing can be more devastating than watching what happens when a key family member, a.k.a. business partner, passes away or faces the reality of needing to step out of their traditional day-to-day role without proper planning, according to Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) Legal Counsel, Andy Kok.

He says the MFB 2018 Take Root Succession Planning Conference Feb. 26 is designed to provide comprehensive help in navigating the transition of a family farm business from one generation to the next. Attendees will leave with strategies to grow their business and secure farm assets for future generations.

'Whether you're new to farm transitioning or simply wanting to update an existing succession plan, this conference is designed to meet the needs of individuals in any stage of estate and succession planning,' Kok said. 'We hear stories every week - it's not a question of if, but when your family will be dealing with farm succession planning issues.'

Kok urges farmers to consider some of the following true Michigan farm family stories and how those scenarios would apply to their families and their operations:

Sam and his wife are 48 years old, and they run a beef cattle operation with Sam's brother, father, and uncle. They love farming, and the farm supports the four families. But Sam's father and uncle still own everything, even though they are in their late 60's, and there is no discussion about the succession plan for the farm. What will happen to Sam and his brother if their dad dies? What will happen with all of the other non-farming siblings and cousins?

Jerry runs an orchard with his son. He's 64. His mom passed away this year at age 88. She had never done any estate or succession planning, and owned the entire orchard that Jerry has spent his life working on. Now Jerry's sister wants the farm split up and sold so that she can have her half of the value. So far, they've spent $60,000 on lawyers fighting about what to do. Jerry is concerned that at some point, he'll have spent more on his lawyer than he can justify to keep the farm. Should he quit farming and cut his losses?

Mary and Jim's son Paul died at age 40 last year in a car accident. They had always all farmed together, and the farm was doing well. Paul had separated from his wife 5 years ago, but they never officially divorced. Mary and Jim were just notified by the wife's attorney that she is now entitled to half of all of the farm's assets, since Paul was legally in a partnership with his mom and dad. What should they do?

Julie's mom is 87 and she needs full-time care. She needs to move into a residential care setting, but she can't afford the $7,000 per month, and is trying to obtain governmental funding. She still owns the dairy farm with her kids. Will that impact her ability to qualify for Medicare?

Dave and Sarah's two sons and daughter have moved back to the farm. Everyone is working on the farm together. The sons started a trucking business on the side, and the daughter has leased additional separate land with her husband. How can they make sense out of all of this with a business structure?

The Take Root Farm Succession Planning Conference in Lansing on February 26 presents an opportunity for you and your farm's 'business partners' to hear from speakers with agricultural succession planning expertise, including Jolene Brown, as a keynote speaker. Considered one of the best speakers in the nation on this issue, Brown will make you laugh, but also make you confront some of your own family issues.

If you are interested, please visit the MFB website at https://www.michfb.com/MI/Take_Root_Conference/ for more details and registration. Registration ends 2/12/18, buy your tickets while they last.