"Holding too tight to family heirlooms, including land, might limit options and force the family to cope with constraints," cautions Kevin Spafford, Farm Journal succession planning expert. "On the flip side, employ the character traits we admire from our pioneering ancestors, and we possess the keys to success." To make succession planning more constructive rather than destructive in 2014, consider these steps from Spafford:
- Specifically define your goals. Write down what you want to achieve, how and why.
- Communicate with your family. Explain the values you hope they share and the legacy you intend to leave.
- Don’t focus on things. Possessions diminish when divided. Values are multiplied when shared.
- Create a plan. Download the succession planning action guide at www.farmjournallegacyproject.com. Grab your 2014 calendar and set deadlines for the next action steps, such as scheduling a family meeting, defining succession planning goals, identifying a facilitator, writing a business plan and so on.
- Take action. Don’t hesitate. Most of what you’ll learn and do in the process is new and uncomfortable, but that’s a sign that you’re moving in the right direction.