McCoy Fatula, APCMcCoy
Fatula
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Estate planning a valuable tool in process of farm succession

California has deep roots in agricultural history. Farming is considered a backbone industry in the United States, and many modern farmers are searching for new ways to help sustain it as a viable means of sustainable income for future generations. Farm succession is a term that encompasses a variety of ideas focused on transferring knowledge, skill and assets to others. Careful estate planning is a significant part of the process.

Farmers are continually challenged as they strive to maintain productive, profitable businesses. Simply transmitting ownership may not be enough to keep a farm running smoothly and continue growing within the agricultural industry. Some communities have offered courses on how to develop long-term goals and strategies for continued farming success.

A carefully designed estate plan can serve as a valuable tool toward that end. A thorough, up-to-date plan helps manage farming assets during a farm owner's life and well into the future after death. Not only can the transfer of land be addressed in a well-designed estate plan, but instructions regarding other important issues (such as distribution of assets and settling estate taxes) may also be included.

Farmers (and others) who take advantage of estate planning options can help prevent disputes over asset administration. As part of a larger farming succession plan, an estate plan can help eliminate uncertainty and secure business interests, as well as protect and preserve a family farm and land for future generations. California estate and probate laws may vary from other states; therefore, it is generally advised that estate owners seek legal guidance for help in formulating an official plan.

Source: agrnews-pubs.com, "Get tips on farm succession planning", Jan. 8, 2017

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