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transition planning

Tractor pulling wagon of grain across beanfield at sunset.

Written by David L. Marrison, Professor & Field Specialist in Farm Management, OSU Extension

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” This famous line was quoted by Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, in the iconic movie titled “The Shawshank Redemption” released in 1994.

As we each traverse through our lives, we all are presented with moments that make us pause and reflect on how precious the time is we have been given here on earth. Every time I watch The Shawshank Redemption, I pause and think of the deeper message in this line:  that life can be spent going through the motions and waiting around for something to happen or you can make something happen.

As we look at developing a plan for transitioning the farm to the next generation, are we waiting around for something to happen? Or will we work to make something happen? As farmers, we have to contend with and solve the day-to-day problems which arise on the farm. And there is never a shortage of problems that arise. Because of this, the time for deeper planning functions such as farm transition planning is often pushed down the to-do list.  So, what will be the trigger to make something happen with regards to your succession plan?

What will be your trigger?

One of the hypothetical questions we pose in farm succession workshops is, “What knowledge would you need to pass on if you knew you had only two months to live?” This exact scenario happened to our family in 2010 when my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just as we entered into Spring planting season on our dairy farm in northeast Ohio. 

My father valiantly battled this disease but passed away seven weeks later. Our family learned a lot and had to scramble to manage the farm in the midst of his illness. I am grateful for the short time we had with my dad to make preparations. But it was not long enough to learn everything we needed to know to run the farm without him.

I challenge you to think how your farm and family would react to the loss of the principal operator.  What knowledge and skills need to be transferred to the next generation so they can be successful without you? What can you do today to make something happen?

Who Will Manage the Farm in the Future?

As you develop your succession or transition plan, there are a myriad of decisions to be made. These decisions include identifying the next leader/manager of the farm, how to be fair to off-farm heirs without jeopardizing the future of the on-farm heirs, how to distribute assets through the estate plan, how and when the senior generation will retire, and how the business will deal with unexpected issues such as divorce, disability or paying for nursing home expenses. I would contend that the most crucial planning functions are to identify the next manager of the farm and then strategically plan how to develop them to lead the farm in the future.

The first step is to identify who the next leader or leaders of the farm will be. The next generation could be an immediate family member (son, daughter, grandchild) or extended family member (brother, sister, niece, nephew). With that said, the next leader does not have to be from your family as some farms have transitioned successfully to a non-blood friend or neighbor. The key is to choose a successor who will be the best caretaker of the farm and the land they will be entrusted with.

As you review potential managers and heirs to your farm, it is important to talk with them about their vision for the future and how it aligns with the current farming operation. What are their goals and aspirations for the farm? What concerns do they have about the future of the farm? 

Complete a skills assessment with each potential heir/manager to examine their current strengths and which areas they will need to receive training in order for them to be a better leader for the farm in the future. Talk with them to learn more about what they would be most concerned or scared about if they had to take over the farm today. Are there additional responsibilities they would like to assume and what is their expectation for an appropriate time for management control to be transferred?

The new manager should have experience with how other farms are operated. Having the future manager work on another farm prior to returning to the home farm is a valuable experience. Mentor relationships should also be developed for the new manager to have a trusted team to help them grow.

Putting the Transition into Motion

The transition can be accomplished gradually by turning over more responsibility and authority to the successor.  In fact, this process may (and should) take 5-10 years. It is important to develop a timeline for transferring ownership, management responsibilities, and knowledge from one generation to the next.

As the senior generation transitions their role and responsibilities to the next generation, thought should be given to the overall labor hours which will be available. In some cases, the responsibilities of two members of the senior generation will be transitioned to a single successor. Think of husband/wife combination transitioning to one of their children. This could cause a labor shortage. Could some tasks be outsourced to independent contractors (like accountants)? Can some production practices be accomplished through custom hire arrangements (silage harvest or cattle breeding)?

The biggest task in the transition plan is making sure the next generation has a firm foundation of knowledge to manage the operation in the future. This will look different for each farm and for the type of manager that is needed.

Owner-Operator. If the next manager is going to be an owner-operator, then training will need to include how to manage all aspects of the farm. These include production skills to raise livestock and/or crop enterprises and marketing skills to effectively market each commodity produced. The owner-operator will also need financial skills to manage the operation’s finances and taxes and human resource skills to manage employees. Additionally, they will need to know how to maintain facilities, tools, and equipment as well as how to manage risk through crop, livestock, and farm insurance.

Owner-Landlord. To the contrary, if the next manager will be more of an owner-landlord, they will need to be trained less on the day-to-day production activities and more on how to manage the farm asset. Some skills which are necessary for landlords include tenant and farm rental management, farm finance and tax management, farm insurance decision making, and facilities and other farm assets maintenance.

Strategies recommended for farm businesses to utilize in the transition process are:

  • Every person who is part of the business (family member and employees) should have a written job description which includes job duties, responsibilities, and expectations.
  • Create an organization chart of all employees and how each employee relates to one another.
  • Develop a timeline for the successor to work through each job description on the farm. It is good to start the new family member as an employee and not the top manager.
  • Provide meaningful opportunities for decision-making as well as accepting responsibility for the future manager.
  • Develop a plan on how the future manager can increase their equity in the farm business through gifting, purchasing or inheritance.
  • Develop a timeline for retirement and managerial transfer from senior generation to the succeeding generation.
  • Utilize family business meetings to discuss the transfer and changing roles within the business.

Some experts advise that the current manager take a number of planned absences before retiring to provide an opportunity for the successor to see what it is like to manage the business alone. This will also allow the current manager to see that the farm does not fall apart without them. So how do you know if the next generation is ready?  There are two other approaches which you can use to help prepare the next generation to lead without you:  

Opossum Approach. Just as an opossum plays dead, so too should the principal operator.   Take an unannounced week away from the farm during one of the busiest times of the year for your farm and allow the junior generation to take over with no communication from the senior generation.  I know this sounds crazy but how else will you know what knowledge and skills need to be transferred?  It is a lot easier to come back after a short vacation and be able to answer the questions your son or daughter has.  You won’t have this opportunity when you pass away.

365-Day Challenge.  Outside of using the opossum approach, it should be the goal of the senior generation to transfer at least one knowledge point or skill to the next generation each day. So, by the end of the year, your heirs will have 365 new tools in their management toolbox. If you do this over the next five to ten years, you can teach your heirs an incredible amount.

Take Advantage of OSU Extension Workshops

Attend one of our Planning for the Future of Your Farm” workshops this Winter to learn about the communication and legal strategies that provide solutions for dealing with farm transition needs and decision making.  A webinar version and several in-person options for the workshop are being offered.

Webinar version.  You and your family members can attend the workshop individually and online from the comfort of your homes. The four-part webinar series will be February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2024, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom. Pre-registration is required so that a packet of program materials can be mailed in advance to participating families. Electronic copies of the course materials will also be available to all participants. The registration fee is $75 per farm family.  Register by February 2, 2024 to receive course materials in time. Register on this page.

In-person workshops.  Our local Extension Educators are hosting in-person workshops at five regional locations across Ohio. Registration costs vary by location due to local sponsorships. 

More information about our Planning for the Future of Your Farm workshops is available at: go.osu.edu/farmsuccession.

Final Thoughts

So, are you ready “to make something happen” to transition your farm to the next generation?  Farm managers are encouraged to think about how the next generation can be prepared to lead the farm in the future.  And as Andy Dufresne stated in The Shawshank Redemption, “remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  Good luck as you plan for the future of your farm!

Farmer looking out over field with combine harvesting soybeans in background
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Friday, November 03rd, 2023

If you and your family are grappling with the critical issue of how to transition the farm operation and farm assets to the next generation, we can help.  Attend one of our “Planning for the Future of Your Farm” workshops this fall and winter to learn about the communication and legal strategies that provide solutions for dealing with farm transition needs and decisionmaking.  We've scheduled both a webinar version and several in-person options for the workshop, with the first in-person workshops coming up soon--November 29, 2023 in Mt. Orab and December 7 in Celina.  

This workshop challenges farm families to actively plan for the future of the farm business.  Learn how to have crucial conversations about the future of your farm and gain a better understanding of the strategies and tools that can help you transfer your farm’s ownership, management, and assets to the next generation. We encourage parents, children, and grandchildren to attend together to develop a plan for the future of the family and farm. 

Teaching faculty for the workshop are David Marrison, OSU Extension Farm Management Field Specialist, and Robert Moore, Attorney with the OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program. Topics David and Robert will cover in the workshop include:

  • Developing goals for estate and transition planning
  • Planning for the transition of control
  • Planning for the unexpected
  • Communication and conflict management during farm transfer
  • Federal estate tax challenges
  • Tools for transferring assets
  • Tools for avoiding probate
  • The role of wills and trusts
  • Using LLCs
  • Strategies for on-farm and off-farm heirs
  • Strategies for protecting the farmland
  • Developing your team
  • Getting your affairs in order
  • Selecting an attorney 

Webinar version.  You and your family members can attend the workshop individually from the comfort of your homes.  The four-part webinar series will be February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2024, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom.

In-person workshops.  Our local Extension Educators are hosting in-person workshops at five regional locations across Ohio:

  • November 29, 2023 - Brown County - Mt. Orab
  • December 7, 2023 - Mercer County - Celina
  • January 19, 2024 - Columbiana County - Lisbon
  • January 26, 2024 - Champaign County - Urbana
  • February 2, 2024 - Seneca County - Tiffin
  • April 4, 2024 - Warren County - Lebanon

Registration is required.  Find registration information for all workshops at https://farmoffice.osu.edu/farm-transition-planning.

We hope you'll join us to move forward on planning for the future of your farm!  For questions about the workshop, please contact David Marrison at marrison.2@osu.edu or 740-722-6073.

Rolling Ohio farmland with large hay bales and barns in distance
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Questions from farmers and farmland owners about agricultural easements are on the rise at the Farm Office.  Why is that?  From what we’re hearing, the questions are driven by concerns about the loss of farmland to development as well as desires to keep farmland in the family for future generations.  An agricultural easement is a unique tool that can help a farmland owner and farming operation meet goals to protect farmland from development or transition that land to the next generation.  Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve been hearing.

What is an agricultural easement?  An agricultural easement is a voluntary legal agreement by a landowner to use land primarily for agricultural purposes and forfeit the right to develop the land for other purposes, either permanently or, less often, for a term of years.  In an agricultural easement, a landowner grants an easement “holder” the legal right to enforce the easement against a landowner or other party who attempts to convert the land to a non-agricultural use. A written legal instrument details and documents this agreement between a landowner and the easement “holder.”  The agricultural easement instrument must be recorded in the county land records, and the agricultural easement is binding on all future landowners for the duration of its term.

A state legislature must authorize the use of the agricultural easement instrument, and Ohio’s legislature did so in 1999.  At that time, the legislature adopted a detailed legal definition of “agricultural easement” in Ohio Revised Code 5301.67(C):

"Agricultural easement" means an incorporeal right or interest in land that is held for the public purpose of retaining the use of land predominantly in agriculture; that imposes any limitations on the use or development of the land that are appropriate at the time of creation of the easement to achieve that purpose; that is in the form of articles of dedication, easement, covenant, restriction, or condition; and that includes appropriate provisions for the holder to enter the property subject to the easement at reasonable times to ensure compliance with its provisions.

The legislature also required in Ohio Revised Code 5301.68 that a landowner may only grant an agricultural easement on land that qualifies for Ohio’s Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) program under Ohio Revised Code 5713.31.

Is an agricultural easement the same as a conservation easement?  No, not in Ohio, but they share the same legal concept of dedicating land to a particular use.  Ohio also allows a landowner to grant a conservation easement, which is a promise to retain land predominantly in its natural, scenic, open, or wooded condition and forfeit the right to develop the land for other purposes.  A conservation easement might allow agricultural land uses, and an agricultural easement might allow some conservation uses.  The terms used in federal law and some other states vary from Ohio, and include “agricultural conservation easement” or “agricultural land easement.”

Who can be a “holder” of an agricultural easement?  Ohio law answers this question in Ohio Revised Code 5301.68, which authorizes only these entities to enter into an agricultural easement with a landowner:

  • The director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture;
  • A municipal corporation, county, or township;
  • A soil and water conservation district;
  • A tax exempt charitable organization organized for the preservation of land areas for public outdoor recreation or education, or scenic enjoyment; the preservation of historically important land areas or structures; or the protection of natural environmental systems (generally referred to as a “land trust” or a “land conservancy.”)

What kinds of land uses would be inconsistent with keeping the land in agricultural use?  That depends on the terms in the written deed for the agricultural easement.  Activities that might violate the agreement to maintain the land as agricultural include subdivision of the property, commercial and industrial uses, major surface alterations, and oil and gas development.  It’s typical to identify the homestead or “building envelope” area and allow new buildings, construction and similar activities within that area, but those activities might not be permitted on other parts of the land.  Review the  Ohio Department of Agriculture’s current Deed of Agricultural Easement through the link on this page:  https://agri.ohio.gov/programs/farmland-preservation-office/landowners.

Can a landowner transfer land that is subject to an agricultural easement?  Yes.  An agricultural easement does not restrict the right to sell or gift land, but it does carry over to the new landowner.  That landowner must abide by the terms of the agricultural easement.

Are there financial incentives for entering into an agricultural easement?  Yes.  There are several financial incentives:

  • The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Office of Farmland Preservation oversees the Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, which provides Clean Ohio grant funds to certified local sponsors to purchase permanent agricultural easements in their communities.  It’s a competitive process that requires a landowner to work with an approved local sponsor to apply for the program and to donate at least 25% of the agricultural easement’s value if selected.  A landowner can receive up to 75% of the appraised value of the farm’s “development rights,” with a payment cap of $2,000 per acre and $500,000 per farm per application period.
  • Federal funds are also available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. This program is also competitive and requires a landowner to work with an approved partner to determine eligibility and apply for easement funding.  NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.
  • There are also federal income tax incentives for donating a portion or all of an agricultural easement’s value to a qualified charitable organization.  Internal Revenue Code section 170(h) allows a landowner to deduct the value of the easement up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in the year of the gift, with a 15-year carryover of excess value.  That AGI percentage increases to 100% for a “qualified farmer” who earns more than 50% of their gross income from farming.
  • There can also be federal estate tax benefits for land subject to a permanent agricultural or conservation easement.  The land is valued at its restricted value, which lowers the estate value.  Additionally, Section 2055(f) of the Internal Revenue Code allows donations of qualifying easements to a public charity to be deducted from the taxable value of an estate.  Up to 40% of the value of land restricted by an agricultural or conservation easement  can be excluded from the value of an estate if the easement meets Internal Revenue Code section 2031(C) provisions, limited to $500,000. 

How can a family use an agricultural easement to enable farm transition goals?  Here’s an example.  John and Sue are fourth generation owners of 250 acres of farmland they plan to leave to their child Lee, and they want the land to remain as farmland into the future.  Lee is committed to farming and wants to farm, and John and Sue would like Lee to have more land to improve the viability of the farming operation. They find a local sponsor and apply to Ohio’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, offering to donate 25% of the agricultural easement value to the program.  They are selected for the funding and receive a payment of $2,000 per acre for the agricultural easement.  They use the $500,000 in easement proceeds to purchase additional farmland for Lee.  John and Sue receive a federal income tax credit for the portion of the easement value they donated to qualify for the program, and carryover the amount until it is fully used, up to 15 years.

What are the drawbacks of agricultural easements?  There are challenges and drawbacks of agricultural easements, and we’ll discuss those in our next blog post.

Agricultural easements require legal and tax advice and careful planning.  Our short Q&A doesn’t address all of the nuances of agricultural easements.  It’s a big decision, and one that should align with current goals and estate and transition plans.  To determine if an agricultural easement works for your situation, seek the advice and planning assistance of knowledgeable legal and tax professionals.

National Agricultural Law Center webinar announcement
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Monday, February 13th, 2023

After many years in private law practice, OSU’s Robert Moore knows the unique estate planning challenges farm families face.  The capital-intensive nature of farming and the family legacy associated with it are just two of the many issues that contribute to those challenges.  But Moore also knows there are legal strategies that can help farm families meet their estate planning needs.

Join Moore as he reviews both the challenges of farm family estate planning and ways to address those challenges in a webinar this Wednesday at Noon.  The webinar offers a chance to learn more about topics such as dealing with on-farm and off-farm heirs, distribution plan ideas, and how trusts can benefit a farm estate plan.  The National Agricultural Law Center will host the webinar as part of its free monthly webinar series. Registration is necessary and is available online at https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars/estate-planning/.

The webinar represents an ongoing partnership between OSU’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program and the National Agricultural Law Center.  For eight years, the two institutions have worked together to bring agricultural law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community with support from the USDA’s National Agricultural Library.  Our agricultural law library on farmoffice.osu.edu contains many resources developed through this partnership, including recent publications on Planning for the Future of Your Farm, Keeping Farmland in the Family, and Long-Term Care and the Farm.  Those and a multitude of other agricultural law resources are also available on the National Agricultural Law Center’s website at nationalaglawcenter.org. 

If you’re not available to attend the webinar this Wednesday, find a recording of it and all other webinars in the monthly series at https://nationalaglawcenter.org/webinars.

Logos

Ohio farm and Planning for the Future of Your Farm Webinar Series title
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Friday, December 09th, 2022

We're happy to announce our popular “Planning for the Future of Your Farm” webinar series for 2023.  The four-part online series will be on January 23 and 30 and February 6 and 13 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. This workshop will help farm families learn strategies and tools for transferring farm ownership, management, and assets to the next generation.

Workshop topics

Here's what the webinar will cover:

  • Developing goals
  • Planning for the transition of management
  • Planning for the unexpected
  • Communication and conflict management during farm transfer
  • Legal tools and strategies
  • Developing your team
  • Getting your affairs in order
  • Selecting an attorney

Workshop faculty

You and your family will learn from two of Ohio's top farm transition experts:

  • Robert Moore, Attorney with our Agricultural & Resource Law Program. If you didn't already know, Robert was in private practice for 18 years before joining our program. He provided legal counsel to farmers and landowners across Ohio on business, farm transition, and estate planning. 
  • David Marrison, OSU Extension Field Specialist in Farm Management. David has been with OSU Extension for 25 years and is nationally known for his teaching in farm succession. He has a unique ability to intertwine humor when speaking about the difficulties of passing the farm on to the next generation. 

Registration

Because of its virtual nature, you can invite your parents, children, and grandchildren to the webinar, regardless of where they live in Ohio or across the United States. The webinar offers an easy way to include all family members in learning about how to develop a plan for the future of your family farm. 

Families must pre-register for the workshop by January 16, 2023 at go.osu.edu/farmsuccession.  We appreciate the support of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association in sponsoring the workshop and helping us keep the cost at $75 per farm family. The registration includes one printed set of materials that we'll mail to a family member, and other members will have access to electronic copies of the materials.

In-person workshops planned also

Several of our OSU Extension county educators are also hosting day-long in-person versions of the workshop on these dates:

Don't miss out

We hope you'll join us for this important series!  Even if you already have an estate plan or have begun one, this workshop should help you learn more and ensure that you're effectively addressing your goals for the future of your farm and farm family. 

For additional information David Marrison at marrison.2@osu.edu or 740-722-6073.

Front page of Long-Term Care and the Farm guide
By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Long-term care costs are a threat to family farms.  In fact, we predict that long-term care costs are the biggest financial threat to farm families, even more so than federal estate taxes.  That’s because long-term care can affect every farm--and when cash or insurance runs out, farm assets may have to be sold to pay for long-term care.  With an increasing elderly population and rising health care costs, the financial pressure of long-term care on family farm succession will probably grow in future years.

What can farm families do to protect farm assets from the risk of long-term care?  Our latest publication by attorney Robert Moore, Long-Term Care and the Farm, addresses this question.  The publication begins with an important first step:  understanding long-term care risk.  What is the chance that a farmer will require long-term care, what kind of care is most common, and what how much will it cost?  Robert presents data and statistics that help us predict the expected type, length, and costs of long-term care services a farmer might require. 

Once we assess long-term care risk, the next important question is how to pay for long-term care while keeping farm assets secure.  Robert explains how Medicare and Medicaid programs can apply to long-term care costs.  He then presents several legal strategies to mitigate long-term care risk and protect farm assets. The guide wraps up with a process a farm family can follow to assess long-term care risk for their individual situation.

It's possible to keep family farmland and the family farm businesses safe from the risk of long-term care.  If long-term care is a concern for your farm family, be sure to read this important new publication and talk with an agricultural attorney about protection strategies. The publication is available at no cost through our funding partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center and the USDA National Agricultural Library.  Read Long-Term Care and the Farm here.

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

Farmland can be a family's most important asset, recognized for both its heritage and financial value.  Here's some proof:  over 1,900 "Century Farms" in Ohio have been in the same family for over 100 years. And 130 of those farms have been in the same family for over two centuries -- testaments to the importance of farmland to Ohio families.

But there are threats that can cause farmland to leave a family despite its value to family members. Long-term care costs, divorce, debt, co- ownership rights, poor estate planning -- these are situations that can put family farmland at risk. The good news is that legal strategies can counter these threats. 

In our new publication, Keeping Farmland in the Family, we offer five legal tools that can help keep farmland in a family:

  • Agricultural or conservation easement
  • Right of First Refusal
  • Long-term lease
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Trust

These legal tools offer a range of protection for family farmland, allowing a family to use a highly restrictive strategy that protects land for many generations or a less restrictive approach that secures land only for a generation or two. Examples provided throughout the publication can help farm families see how different scenarios play out.  The guide does not intend to substitute for individual legal advice, but offers a family a starting point for discussion and decisionmaking with an agricultural attorney. 

Read Keeping Farmland in the Family here.  We were able to produce this publication with financial assistance from the National Agricultural Law Center and the USDA's National Agricultural Library.

 

Farmer holding clipboard with tractor in background and Legal Groundwork Series title

By Robert Moore, Attorney and Research Specialist, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

There is no doubt that Long-Term Care (LTC) costs are a financial threat to many farms.  Some farmers go to great lengths to protect their farm assets from potential LTC costs.  Protection strategies include gifting assets to family members, transferring farm assets to irrevocable trusts and buying LTC insurance.  But what do the statistics say about the actual risk to farms for LTC costs?

According to the Administration for Community Living, someone turning age 65 today has an almost 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services in their remaining years.  Due to women having longer life expectancies, predictions are that women will need an average of 3.7 years of care and men will need 2.2 years.  While one-third of today's 65-year-olds may never need long-term care support, 20% will need it for longer than 5 years.  The following data from the ACL provides more details as to the type and length of care needed:

This table shows that of the three years of LTC needed on average, two of those years are expected to be provided at home and one year in a facility.  It is noteworthy that a majority of LTC services are typically provided at home because most people do not want to leave home for a facility, some at-home care isn’t paid for, and home care is less expensive than facility care.  Many people may think all LTC will be provided in a facility, but as the data shows, this is not usually the case.

The next important statistic is cost.  The following are costs of various LTC services from the 2021 Cost of Care Survey provided by Genworth Financial, Inc. 

Nursing home costs are significantly higher than in-home services.  People may think of LTC costs in terms of nursing homes, but as discussed in the previous paragraph, the majority of LTC services are the less expensive, in-home type. So, while all LTC costs are significant, they might not be as high as commonly thought.

Let’s use this data to come up with some possible numbers for an Ohio farmer.  Assume the following:

  • A 65year-old farmer has a 67% chance of needing LTC
  • The length of that care will be around 3 years
  • 1 year of care will be unpaid inhome services
  • 1 year of care will be paid, inhome services at around $60,000/year
  • 1 year of care will be in a nursing home at around $90,000/year

Based on the above assumptions, a 65-year-old Ohioan, on average, can expect about $100,000 in LTC care costs ($60,000 + $90,000 x 67%). Keep in mind that these costs are per person and a married couple will have double these potential costs. The next question is, can the average farmer absorb LTC costs without jeopardizing the farm?  That's a question we'll examine in a future post in the Legal Groundwork Series.

 

White barns with red roofs on cattle farm.
By: Jeffrey K. Lewis, Esq., Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Ohio State Extension will host a virtual three part "Planning for the Future of your Farm" webinar series. The webinar series will span over three Monday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. starting on February 15, 2021 and concluding on March 1, 2021. This workshop is designed to help farm families learn strategies and tools to successfully create a succession and estate plan that helps transfer the farm's ownership, management, and assets to the next generation. 

Topics discussed during this series include: 

  • Developing Goals for Estate and Succession; 
  • Planning for the Transition of Control; 
  • Planning for the Unexpected; 
  • Communication and Conflict Management During Farm Transfer;
  • Legal Tools and Strategies;
  • Developing Your Team;
  • Getting Your Affairs in Order; and
  • Selecting an Attorney

This workshop will be taught by members of the OSU Farm Office Team featuring Peggy Hall & Jeffrey Lewis, Attorneys from the OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program and David Marrison, Extension Educator for Coshocton County. 

Because the workshop is online, you can invite your parents, children, and/or grandchildren to join you as you develop a plan for the future of your family farm, regardless of where they live in Ohio or across the United States.

Pre-registration is required. One hard-copy of program materials will be mailed to participating farm families. Electronic copies of the program materials will also be available to all participants. The registration fee is $40 per farm family. The deadline to register for the webinar series is February 10, 2021. You can register online at the "Planning for the Future of Your Farm" webinar registration page.  

In Summary: 

What? 

A three part "Planning for the Future of Your Farm" webinar series. 

When? 

Monday, February 15, 2021 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
Monday, February 22, 2021 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
Monday, March 1, 2021 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

Cost? 

$40 per farm family. 
Registration deadline is February 10, 2021. 

You can find more information about the webinar series by visiting the "Planning for the Future of Your Farm" webinar registration page. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact David Marrison by phone at (740) 622-2265 or email at marrison.2@osu.edu

We look forward to seeing you there! 

By: Evin Bachelor, Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Sometimes you happen upon a question that you want an answer to, and the answer you find raises more questions.  That’s exactly what happened when we started examining Limited Liability Company (LLC) statutes from across the Midwest.

Originally, we wanted to determine whether there are any significant legal differences between the LLC statutes of different states.  While we may be based in Ohio, we find projects that examine how different states compare to one another on the same legal topic fascinating.  The comparisons allow us to see trends and different ideas, and we had the chance to do this in our recently completed projects on CAUV and agritourism.

Ultimately we found the Midwestern states to have functionally similar LLC statutes, with about half of the Midwest having adopted a uniform statute.  When a state adopts a uniform statute, it intends for its law on a given topic to match those of other states with the same uniform statute.  There are other examples of these like the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, and more.  Uniform codes are designed to make it easier for people to do business and live their lives across state lines.  For Midwestern LLC statutes, even in states that have not adopted a uniform statute, the key elements are still very similar.  The statutes have filing procedures for creating the entity, default rules for operating agreements, and rules that govern LLCs in general.

When we answered our questions about the state statutes, we became curious about some of the benefits offered by using an LLC instead of some other business form.  We found that LLCs offer great liability protection, with some specific limitations such as the application of piercing the veil from corporate law.  Further, pass through taxation can provide great tax benefits and avoid double taxation.  Since states allow operating agreements to be highly customizable, LLCs also provide a flexible entity structure that may be adapted to suit the needs of a business or family.

That last word led us to another question: what benefits does the LLC structure offer a family farm in its estate and business transition plan?  The previous three benefits are well known and thoroughly discussed; however, this last one, while done a lot in practice, is not commonly mentioned in academic writing.  Ultimately, the benefits in estate and transition planning come from the flexible nature of the operating agreement.

How can LLCs be helpful in an estate and business transition plan for a farm?  Here’s a few ways:

  • Restrict the transfer of an ownership interest through rights of first refusal and buy-out provisions
  • Restrict membership and voting power of non-family members
  • Transition equity ownership more easily than in a corporation
  • Transition the business in relative privacy

Once we learned about these benefits, the question arose of how common farming LLCs now are.  Using data from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, we found that by 2012, there were almost as many farms organized as LLCs as there were farms organized as corporations, while the vast majority of farms remained owned outright by individuals with no formal legal entity.  We are waiting for the next Census of Agriculture to spot any trends, because 2012 was the first year that farms were asked to identify whether they were organized as LLCs.

Throughout the paper, we made some observations and predictions for what we expect to see in the future.  We are also history buffs, so of course there had to be a section on the origins of the LLC, and why Wyoming was the first state to adopt an LLC statute.  It is an interesting and dramatic history that we had not heard about before.

Our project examining farm LLCs is available on our OSU Extension Farm Office website HERE, as well as the National Agricultural Law Center’s website HERE.  This material is based upon work supported by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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