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Succession Planning: Indecision is a Choice

January 24, 2014
By: Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal Columnist

Leaving things to chance is never the best option

They didn’t think it was important, until he died suddenly. It wasn’t a surprise; after all, he was 89 years old and had health problems.

But the family still wasn’t prepared, and until the last moment, he was in denial. What the family learned a few days after his death is that not only did they not know his succession intentions, but they didn’t know he’d made his new wife the beneficiary of the trust. This happens far too often.

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Transition is going to happen. Whether it’s planned or not is your choice. If you depend on the operation, it’s your responsibility to initiate the succession planning process. The story you read above is about a real family, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard a story like this—and unfortunately, it won’t be the last.

You might believe that succession planning is optional and that if you don’t plan, it’ll still work out. Well, it doesn’t happen that way!

If you don’t have a written plan for succession, isn’t about time you do? If you do have a plan, is it time for a review? Everything changes—family, operations, economies, dollar values, career goals, regulations, tax laws and farming methods. Remember:

  • Nothing is too insignificant to mention; each step in the planning process makes a difference.
  • Indecision is a choice, and it’s never the right one.
  • Don’t assume anything—know. And if you don’t know, ask!
  • Everything in your succession plan should be based on your goals, not an adviser’s capabilities.
  • If an adviser does not focus on your needs, find someone who will.
  • The process can be long, but the journey is worth it.
  • Succession planning is a transformational process for the whole family.
  • Most estate plans are not compatible with the family’s succession intentions.
  • It starts with commitment.


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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - February 2014
RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Legacy Project

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