Estate planning is complicated, and for farmers that’s especially true. It’s crucial to have a lawyer on your succession planning team who understands the intricacies of your business. But how do you find one? Well, Polly Dobbs of Dobbs Legal Group gave Legacy Project Conference attendees some tips to choose the right lawyer.
Her best tip? Ask your accountant which lawyers their clients works with.
“I find that it's typically the accountants and the bankers who are on the front lines, who are meeting with these farmers every year, and they know the family issues and they see what's coming down the pipe and they have lots of clients that work with lots of different lawyers,” she explains. “Ask around. Who in your neighborhood, in your region, in your state really gets farming and does the technical piece too?”
She says choosing an attorney who understands farming is critical, because they have to understand your assets. Also, don’t be afraid to look outside of your community.
“I say ask around and get referrals but don't be surprised if you have to travel out of town to find a lawyer who can help with this,” she says. “There might not be somebody just right on your town square that's good at this.”
Additionally, she recommends farmers ask for a free consultation before agreeing to more. Simply call the lawyer and say that you’d love a chance to meet in person and see if you could work together.
“For a lot of lawyers, that piece is free. I will chat with you and describe the process to you and explain the practice to you and then you decide if you want to work together because if you don't like your lawyer, it's not going to go well,” she says. “You won't share the right information and it will just be bad from the beginning.”