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December 2013 Archive for Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

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.

Two Powerful Questions You Should Answer

Dec 23, 2013

Montana Bison   USDA NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (12.20.2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

"For the youth, do you want to be your dad's 50-year-old hired man? For the parents, do you want your children to work with you—or for you?" This might not be the first time you've read these questions, but they cut to the heart of why a lack of planning can be so destructive for the family. Lucas Lentsch, the secretary of agriculture for South Dakota, posed these questions in an article titled "Make Succession Planning a Priority."

He goes on to plead, "If succession planning has been on the 'to-do list' for some time—make it a priority. Don't wait any longer." To add a bit of urgency, now is the best time to plan. For most, the harvest is done and planting is in the distant future. Families are together, so visiting about this important topic will be of interest. Thanks to Farm Journal and Pioneer, you have plenty of good information, relevant tools and other resources to engage in the process.

I'm always available to address your questions and provide some planning perspective. So, to tag along on Lentsch's theme, make it a priority.

  • If you don't know where to start, begin with a family meeting.
  • If you don't know what to do next, define some common goals.
  • If you don't know who can help, interview professional providers who specialize in succession planning.
  • If you don't know if the plan you completed prior is good enough, ask for a second opinion.
  • If you don't know if a plan is necessary, ask your neighbor who is preparing the next generation, because your family will be competing with his in the future.
  • If you have questions, Ask Kevin.

News & Resources for You:  

"Make Succession Planning a Priority" (Lucas Lentsch, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture).

Decide now to secure your legacy. Our Succession Planning Action Guide helps you track the steps.

eLegacyConnect: The best new resource for providing succession solutions for your farm family.

Discover why the process of succession planning is just as important as the end result.  

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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS


Succession Planning for Christmas

Dec 18, 2013

Books   Microsoft picFrom Legacy Moment (12.13.2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Looking for another gift idea for the aspiring farm manager or future farm owner on your list? These books should be part of any business library.



  • "As a Man Thinketh" (James Allen)
  • "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life" (Alan Lakein)
  • "Atlas Shrugged" (Ayn Rand)


  • "My Life and Work" (Henry Ford)
  • "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr." (Ron Chernow)
  • "John Adams" (David McCullough)

Succession Planning:

  • "House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty" (Julia Flynn Siler)
  • "Passing Down the Farm" (Donald J. Jonovic)
  • "Bringing Out the Best in People" (Aubrey Daniels)


  • "A Sense of Urgency" (John P. Kotter)
  •  "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change" (Stephen Covey)
  • "Visionary Business: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Success" (Marc Allen)

Wishing each of you a wonderful Christmas and the best of everything in 2014!


News & Resources for You:

And don't forget about the learning tools available online, including:

The Legacy Project Workbook—a PDF version of the materials that accompany our live events.

The Legacy Project 2012 Report—a full issue of Farm Journal devoted entirely to succession-related issues.

Kevin Spafford's Leave a Legacy columns—dozens are archived online.

To browse a large and growing library of succession planning resources, visit eLegacyConnect

Legacy 20Pioneer 20DuPont 20Attribution 202012




Thoughts on Succession Planning

Dec 12, 2013

Boise ID   USDA ARSFrom Legacy Moment (12.06.2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

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, they also didn't know he'd made his new wife the beneficiary of the trust. This happens far too often.

Transition is going to happen. Whether it's planned or not is your choice. If you're dependent 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!

Below are 10 points about succession. 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. Is your plan up-to-date?

  • Nothing is insignificant; 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, fire 'em and find someone who will.
  • The planning 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.


News & Resources for You:

No matter which generation you represent, certain components are necessary on your family farm.

Jump-start 2014 by joining us for a Legacy Project Workshop next week. There's still time to register!

eLegacyConnect: The best new resource for providing succession solutions for your farm family. 

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 Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS


Seek Alignment Rather Than Balance

Dec 04, 2013

Jackson WY   NRCSFrom Legacy Moment (11.29.2013).
Please join us for future issues,
delivered via email each Friday.

Consultants and any number of self-help gurus enjoy pontificating on the quest for balance. They speak of the infamous "work-life balance." They write articles to explain the relationship balance. These purveyors of thought often include specific disciplines and podcasts about balancing investments, debt-to-asset ratios and economic cycles. Some even go so far as to preach about the balance between good and evil or right and wrong.

So this might come as a shock to those who look to this forum. When it comes to the proverbial "balance" between family and business, I don't encourage a focus that teeters on a fence between choices. I don't talk about balance at all! I aspire to align my life's goals with my interests, skills, talents and abilities. Seeking alignment rather than balance removes conflict and allows a person to move toward clearly defined objects. Alignment does not place a person on a scale weighing the value of alternate selections.

Alignment allows you to leverage your interests with your strengths to achieve success.

1. Alignment is a natural orientation.
2. Strength is leveraged by focusing on a goal.
3. Achievement becomes the result.

As we head into the holiday season, focus on your goals, align with your interests and realize success. For most, succession is the goal, family is the interest and success is the legacy.


News & Resources for You: 

We're thankful for the legacy stories you share. Here are a few of Kevin's favorites.

Time is running out to register for December's Legacy Project Workshops. Check that off your to-do list today.

Did you know? eLegacyConnect is offered as a member benefit through a number of national ag organizations.  

Legacy 20Pioneer 20DuPont 20Attribution 202012


Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


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