For farmers, land is far more than an asset to be valued and sold. Land is a legacy to be protected, a resource that generates income and, if land has been passed down from generations, the cornerstone of their family's heritage. The goals of estate planning for farm owners involves planning for the needs of all family members, even those who may not be actively involved with its operations. It must also address the challenges of high inheritance taxes, prepare for settlement problems and foster a transition of ownership and management when the owner passes on.
In the next decade, a quarter of our nation's agricultural land is expected to change hands, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. In "Planning for Farmland," the Black Hills Pioneer discusses the need for that land to remain productive and valuable. Estate planning, done properly and with the special challenges of farmland in mind, can achieve this. The NRCS identifies four key goals for a strong estate plan for farm owners:
- Transfer ownership and management of the agricultural operation, land, and other assets to a new operator;
- Avoid unnecessary transfer taxes, such as income, gift, and estate taxes;
- Provide for financial security and peace of mind for all generations;
- Foster the next generation's management capacity.
The American Farmland Trust (AFT), an organization operating under the NRCS, serves agricultural landowners, concerned citizens, planners, local officials, state agency staff, land trusts and policymakers. The AFT answers complex questions on all types of issues.
Talk with a qualified estate planning attorney and make sure your hard-earned investment and family legacy is properly protected.