Estate Planning and Farm Transition

Welcome to the resource portal for materials and discussions concerning estate planning and farm transition. Black’s Law Dictionary defines Estate Planning as “that branch of the law which, in arranging a person’s property and estate, takes into account the laws of wills, taxes, insurance, property [ownership] and trusts so as to gain maximum benefit of all laws while carrying out the person’s own wishes for the disposition of his [or her] property upon his [or her] death.” More simply put, Estate Planning is the series of decisions you make about how and when and to whom you will rid yourself of your accumulated property, a/k/a your “stuff,” during life or at death.

While the recourses here will deal generally with wills, trusts, property ownership and titling, transfer taxes, probate and the like applying to all property transfers, we place particular emphasis on how such concepts relate to transferring those assets critical to farm and forest production (i.e. “farm transition”).

Of further focus will be “farm business succession,” the development of strategies and tactics to transfer working assets (e.g. supporting a business concern) so as to minimize any disruption in the income streams from (and costs of managing) such working assets. Topics related here will include business entities (e.g. limited liability company), titling of assets, contracts, leases, business valuation, use of life insurance, and communication.

Estate planning decisions are more often written down to reduce the risk of unintended transfers.  However, sometimes one decides not to decide, whereupon state law defines and prescribes the recipients of and the process for distributing such interests (called “intestate succession”).  The resources and discussions found in this portal are designed to help you put your estate planning decisions down on paper in their proper form to give them legal effect, and to help ensure such assets are protected against needless transfer costs and the claims of those to whom you do not want to transfer your property.  This page is also meant to help you enhance your benefit from private legal services, and to revisit written plans when necessary.