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Matters of the Estate

June 30, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
Angie   Steve May100
A forward-thinking estate plan led Angie May to form a partnership with her father in 1999. Her husband, Steve, joined full-time this year.  

The pieces of the puzzle finally come together

A simple conversation on a family houseboat trip more than a decade ago served as a springboard for Minich-May farms. With the next gen-eration ready to be involved, Dave and Marilyn Minich knew a comprehensive succession plan and an estate plan were necessary for their daughter, Angie May, and her husband to join the Logansport, Ind., operation.

Dave was happy to provide support and an avenue for Angie to be a part of the family farm, especially since he had not received a warm welcome to join his father decades earlier. Dave’s

father, Ernie, discouraged him from returning to the farm because he didn’t think the farm could support both generations.

Dave wasn’t deterred. "It’s that Minich family resoluteness. Some would call us stubborn," he says.

Ernie and Dave began partnering together in a small hog and row-crop farm, which eventually turned into a full partnership that began growing, slow and steady.

By the early 1980s, Dave began taking on more responsibility and eventually took over the operation. His impressive drive and farm business skills earned Dave the honor of 2008 Top Producer of the Year.

Leadership transition. In 1999, Dave started to transition the management responsibilities to

Angie. With an MBA in international business and a background in commercial banking, Angie returned to the farm poised to take the operation to a new level.

"One day, when Angie was in high school, I said to her, ‘You need to understand enough about the farm to either manage it, rent it or sell it.’ She has worked her way to becoming a manager," Dave says.

Angie says their succession plan has evolved throughout the years. The operation consists of 6,000 acres of row crops, most of which are rented. The main operating entity is an S corporation, and the family owns land in a C corporation.

"For the last 10 years, my husband and I have bought ground on our own. Through gifting and other means, we’re trying to get more involved with the other corporations," Angie says.

At the beginning of 2012, Angie’s husband, Steve, left his off-farm job to join the farming operation full-time. "We take Angie’s information, Steve’s eagerness and my background and experience and we talk things out," Dave says.

Off-farm siblings. In addition to Angie, Dave and Marilyn have two sons: Mark, an engineer, and Robb, an attorney.

Before Angie and Steve became heavily involved in the operation, Dave and Marilyn knew they needed a plan to treat their children equally. They put a value to their assets and came up with

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