As a farmer, it’s easy to get caught up in that day to day of running your farm. If you’re like many of our farming clients, the last thing you want to do after a hard week’s work is spend time in the farm office. Not having a clear idea on how to start your farms estate plan can make this even more difficult and can lead to avoidance.
Below, Matt Meehan, Founder and CEO of Lifesolver Financial and Farm Business Success, explains exactly why having a clear idea of what you want to achieve before you engage your legal professionals is critical to the success of your estate plan and your family’s wishes.
If you’re an established farmer with assets you want to pass down to the next generation, estate planning is not only necessary, but also inevitable.
Knowing this, planning for your future is a much better option than being forced to deal with it due to the occurrence of a major life event.
While having discussions around the transfer of assets and the transfer of the farming operations can be difficult, a constructive conversation could mean the difference between having the whole family together at Christmas time or not.
Before you get your legal professionals involved, however, you need to have a clear understanding of what you’re looking to achieve.
“Too often, I’ve seen the situation where someone is relying on professionals, such as accountants and lawyers, to have the answers for them.”
Matt says that while experts and professionals may be able to provide you with advice, they don’t know what you or your family want without you providing that insight.
Your legal professionals are looking for that clarity themselves, so that they know what they’re working with.
So, how do you get started on your farms estate plan?
Matt says “When going to your accountant or your lawyer, you must have done the homework yourselves. You must have got together as a family and had those discussions, talked things through, and thought about the future.”
If you’re asked the right questions, you often have the answers you’re looking for, you just need the right prompt.
Matt suggests that a good place to start is by asking yourself this:
If you’re three or ten years down the track and you’re looking back, what needs to happen for you and your family to feel like things have been a success when it comes to intergenerational transition?
We use questions like this when working with our clients because it helps provide a full picture of what the farming family is wanting to achieve.
Often, it is easier to work backwards than forwards. Looking to the future, we know where we want to be, it is just a matter of creating the pathway to get there.
Setting aside time to plan and organise family meetings is probably at the bottom of your priority list as a farmer, but if you’ve read any of our recent posts, you would know exactly why things like this should be at the top of it. Read our other posts by clicking the links below.
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The Lifesolver Team.