That’s the question our youngest child, Elizabeth, asked while we were driving down our farm lane. We’d been looking at our old gambrel-roof barn and farmhouse up ahead and trading stories about what we like best about living here. One minute we’re talking about how funny it is that our two Labradors are always sleeping under the wraparound porch and the next, she is totally serious and asking, "Any idea who will live here one day? I mean when you and Dad are gone."
"Oh, I’m not sure," I answered, thinking we’d soon go back to having fun. No such luck. "Don’t you think you should know? Someone needs to have it who cares, and not just about the house but the farm, too," was her wise-beyond-her-years, 12-year-old response. Needless to say, we were off and running on a conversation every farm family needs to have: a succession plan for the future.
Jonathan and I have a will, power of attorney documents, life insurance and the like. What we don’t have—and certainly need—is a multifaceted succession plan for our farm and business. At 48, we’re young enough to not be too worried but too old not to be ready.
Thanks to Elizabeth, we’re digging in and mapping out how to protect—and leave—our legacy. Even though I helped launch the Farm Journal Legacy Project almost two years ago, Jonathan and I have been slow to start succession planning for ourselves. If you’re in the same boat, I invite you to attend one of the upcoming Legacy Project Workshops. To learn more, visit www.FarmJournal LegacyProject.com/events.
We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re working on them, one at a time.
- Mid-November 2011