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.
Thoughts on Succession Planning
Dec 12, 2013
From Legacy Moment (12.06.2013).
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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.
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