Leave a Legacy
Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project. He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.
What's the Hurry?
May 29, 2012
From Legacy Moment (05/25/2012).
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Why all the interest in succession planning? What’s the hurry? Does it make any difference whether we do it today or tomorrow? How will the laws, regulations and the families change over the next several years? Should we just wait to see?
When it comes to succession planning, if you empathize with the above questions, you’re either unwarily complacent, naïve to the threats or comfortable in denial. Succession, passing your assets from one generation to the next, will happen whether you want it to or not. If you can’t take it with you into the afterlife, by definition it will stay here to be divided among your heirs.
Many may be uncomfortable with the blunt nature of this message. By intent, it’s a bit startling and in-your-face. To plan for succession is a choice. Nobody says you have to do it. There is no government department of succession planning, and most of your institutional alliances—banks, seed providers, equipment dealers, etc.—that may want you to have a plan, cannot enforce your compliance.
So what kind of encouragement do you need to engage in the process? Is a death in the farming community that leaves a family without a leader and a farm without an agripreneur enough? Or how about a nasty divorce that ravages the family and leaves the courts to decide who owns what? What about the farmer in the next county who’s worked a lifetime to build a nice operation yet, with age, he’s beginning to realize there is no successor?
The choice is yours and the time is now. Take control and plan the outcome you desire. No one likes to get to the end of a great show only to find that the director didn’t tell us how the story ends. Well, your life is the same. As you’re living the parts and fulfilling your dreams, remember that you control the outcome. Your legacy will be based on the decisions you make and the actions you take. Plan now to create a legacy that will endow your family for generations to come.
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Remember, the survival of your family farm (and the harmony of your family) rely upon strong communication.