Succession Planning Experts Help Families Through the Process
When it comes to devising a plan to transition the family farm to the next generation, communicating may be the hardest part, according to Jeri Albright, who along with her husband, Corky, operates a crop and livestock operation in Jackson County, Kan.
"People don't want to talk about you not being there," said Albright, who has four grown children – one of whom farms with his parents. "It's hard for the children to talk about, but we really need to talk about things like health issues" before they come up.
Preparing individual plans
To help agricultural producers with farm transition plans, Kansas State University hosts workshops in various locations around the state. Each meeting has different topics and speakers.
The Albrights began the process when they attended a workshop in 2010, sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, the Farm Analyst Program, and Kansas Farm Management Association. They've worked with several professionals in developing their plan, including their attorney, KFMA and Farm Analyst economists, and agriculture and natural resources extension agent Jody Holthaus in the Meadowlark District. The Meadowlark Extension District is comprised of Jackson, Jefferson, and Nemaha counties.
"Many people don't know what they own or what they're worth," Albright said, adding that planning for a farm transition from one generation to the next forces families to consider many factors and to make decisions. Sometimes those decisions are easier to avoid but ultimately, should be considered before a crisis hits.
She said she's attended several meetings on the subject and that although all participants have different circumstances, it was helpful to hear presentations as well as questions and answers from others.
Completing necessary documents
The Albrights drew up an agreement in June 2012: "We came out with a trust agreement, a will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and a living will. Those were the five components of the paperwork," Albright said.
"I was relieved to have something down," said Albright, who added that because she and Corky are still farming, the plan can change if needed. "At least it's on paper and it has instructions and is a workable plan."
Jonie James, McPherson County agriculture and natural resources agent, led a session on taxes and followed up on a previous transition meeting, which drew 250 people from several states including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. It had a waiting list of 60.
"I just want to make sure people have a good understanding of their options," James said, adding that the more people know before they meet with their accountant and lawyer, the better.
Other recent workshop topics included Passing Down the Farm, Introduction to Farm Transition Planning, and Women in Agriculture.