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Succession Planning Tools

November 16, 2011

Reach into the Farm Journal Legacy Project toolbox to help plan for the future

A family focused on taking constructive action can achieve succession planning success. Using the right tools helps in the process each step of the way. Of the more than 20 tools available, the following eight are the most popular among farm families. A complete list of Legacy Project tools can be downloaded and printed to use at your convenience at the Legacy Project website.
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1. Family Meeting Agenda

When holding family meetings, it is important to follow an agenda. Use this tool to help your family focus on the important issues.

2. Conversation Starters

When it’s time to talk about succession, distribute the Conversation Starter questions before the family meeting to help each family member consider his or her goals. During the meeting, take time for family members to share their aspirations.

3. Goals Clarification Worksheet

Most farmers have only a vague idea of what they want to achieve from their succession planning efforts. This worksheet is designed to help family members define their goals in three areas: operational integrity, financial security and leadership development.

4. Fair Versus Equal Exercise

Use this tool to talk about how to include active and inactive children in the future of the operation. It’s a sensitive—but necessary—matter to address.

5. Succession Planning Self-Assessment

As you consider your succession planning objectives, respond to these 20 statements to help you identify your priorities and first steps. It’s critical for each family member to commit to the process in order to achieve a positive outcome.

6. Buy/Sell Review

With so many components involved, it makes sense to periodically review your buy/sell agreement. This tool will help you assess your current agreement and identify those areas that need to be updated. It can also be used to ensure that you’ve discussed the relevant points and mechanisms with your legal adviser.

7. Establishing a Family Employment Policy

It’s important to spell out the criteria for hiring and employing family members. The family employment policy helps to establish a businesslike environment for all active family members and allows the managing family members to base decisions on a written policy rather than emotional impulse.

8. Trust/Will Review

This tool is designed to encourage discussion about trusts and wills. Detailed questions should be addressed by your legal adviser.

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - Mid-November 2011

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