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The topic of estate planning is on everyone’s mind, and in most cases, it’s the ghost in the room.
No one wants to recognize it out of fear. It doesn’t matter the situation. If you have a farm, a plan needs to be in place, and a plan requires “doing.”Estate Plans are crucial for farms, businesses, and family operations. Estate Plans, when done correctly, consider many things and take time to create. This article is just about one of them, the other areas will be covered in a later blog post with attorneys. One of the ‘many things’ that is needed is life insurance and I know one thing well, and that is life insurance – and it is a good place to start.
The Reasons Plans Are Skipped
Upon death and transfer of an estate, there are expenses. Lots of expenses. And the one worrying about it is the one taking on the responsibility of your estate. Not all, but most cases I see the elder who is handing off the farm is stubborn and feels there is no need to address the expenses for several reasons.
One, it was never addressed for them, and they had to buy it.
Two, they don’t feel the need to leave anyone rich – thought is, “They should work just as hard as I had too.”
Three, there just isn’t enough money to pay an attorney to set things up. AKA, An estate plan that would save the family heartache and dollars.
Four, no one wants to disrupt the family dynamics and see anyone hurt….waiting until death just eliminates the elder from the confrontation. It’s the ultimate nasty, last minute gift of procrastination.
Estate plans are a topic of every new conversation I have, regardless of age. If you have a take-over or farming-with scenario, there needs to be a plan. Again, with most cases of young farmers, I visit with there is no WRITTEN plan. It’s an “I think I can” moment. Most feel positive they are going to get the operation or are going to be able to buy it from either the elders or the siblings.
With hundreds of farm clients all around the country, I have seen it all.
I have seen plans go wrong and I have seen good families turn into vultures. Two things I have learned is even if there is not a plan the one taking over had better plan if the elders didn’t, and even if the elders did plan there still better be an option for cash in case it all goes south.
If there is no plan, the inheritor should have a takeover plan in place. Consider the expenses.
If there is a plan, create an option for cash if the plan goes south.
Where to Start with a Family Farm Estate Plan
Life insurance is the plan that can help prepare for every situation.
If the elders have a plan, great!
Life insurance needs to be part of that plan. Here are just a few examples of why. 1. The life insurance death benefit will provide an inheritance for the kids off the farm. 2. The death benefit will provide cash for the one taking over to buy out the siblings or use for operating now that they inherited more expenses.
If the elders do NOT have an estate plan, life insurance still needs to be part of a plan. In this case, the one taking over NEEDS to protect themselves from unknowns. Having some life insurance on the elders is critical for this. When the elder passes the death benefit money can be used to buy out siblings, pay estate expenses, or used for operating expenses.
The death benefit may be what determines if that family farm stays in the family.
This last scenario is the one I see most of and it may seem cold but I don’t really care about how nice and wonderful your family is NOW. I care about protecting your family farm and no one knows what will happen until the worst happens. We will plan or at least talk about worst case scenario and how to best prepare for that.
It is always better to be prepared then to wish you were.
Are you the one worried about taking over? Are you the one tired of asking if there is a plan? Are you the one hoping and praying the plan gets done?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions –
STOP relying on them.
START relying on yourself.
Take the bull by the horns and protect yourself. Do the best you can, something is better than nothing. I do a lot of policies on parents or partners and the death benefit is not enough to cover everything but they will have something more than had they not taken action.
One Last Thought
I bet you have worked that farm for many years and helped build it to where it is today. Why aren’t you protecting your work? If the elders won’t do it then do it yourself. Life insurance death benefit is the best way to do that. You are able to pay $0.40-0.70 for every dollar of death benefit. Where else can you go to get discounted dollars to buy the farm? <<Read The Article>>
Open your thoughts and be sure you are prepared if no one else wants to prepare.
You will find more on this in my book, Farming Without the Bank, but I do not go into great detail….it may require it’s own book! If you have not grabbed the book do so now, waiting to get started will just cost you more. Now as in today or this minute – is important in this scenario. I wish you wealthy farming! Mary Jo