Our New Resources Can Help You Plan for the Future of your Farm

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Monday, August 08th, 2022
Planning for the Future of Your Farm publications

Farming takes planning.  A lot of planning.  Whether for next year’s crop, expanding a herd, buying land, constructing buildings, starting a new venture, or upgrading equipment, farmers are nearly always engaged in planning for how to keep the farm on track.  But  farm transition and estate planning—that is, planning for what happens to a farm business and its family from one generation to the next—is a whole different kind of planning.  And it’s one type of planning farmers often avoid.

Farm transition and estate planning can be challenging and uncomfortable, perhaps because it involves dealing with death, uncertainty, and difficult family decisions.  But like planning for the next year of production, farm transition and estate planning is critical to a farm’s success.  With good planning, a farm family can protect farm assets, implement family and business goals, and ensure a smooth transition of a viable operation to the next generation.  It’s the kind of planning that can pay off big. That's why we've written the Planning for the Future of Your Farm law bulletin series, a resource that explains the legal tools and strategies that can address a family’s goals. 

The ten-part series of bulletins in Planning for the Future of Your Farm includes:

  1. Farm Transition Planning: What it is and What to ExpectThe concept of farm transition planning, common terms, what farmers can expect from the transition planning process, and how to prepare for it.
  2. The Financial Power of AttorneyA Financial Power of Attorney authorizes someone to make financial decisions for another.  We explain the different types and how they can help a farm business.
  3. The Health Care Power of Attorney and Advance DirectivesMedical and end-of-life plans can ease decision making uncertainties for families.  This bulletin explains the Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Wills, Donor Registries, and Funeral Directives.
  4. Wills and Will-based PlansA will is a commonly known tool for distributing property.  This bulletin explains different types of wills and how they can be used in a farm transition plan.
  5. Legal Tools for Avoiding ProbateWe review legal tools that transfer assets upon death and avoid probate, including beneficiary designations, payable on death accounts, transfer on death designations, and survivorship deeds.
  6. Gifting Assets Prior to DeathGifting is one way to transfer assets to the next generation.  In this bulletin, we discuss how gifting works and when it can be advantageous to incorporate gifting into a transition plan.
  7. Using Trusts in Farm Transition PlanningTrusts are popular tools in farm transition planning.  In this bulletin, we explain how trusts function and highlight how they can meet family and farm planning needs.
  8. Using Business Entities in Farm Transition PlanningMany farms have business entities for liability or tax purposes, but business entities can also enable transition of a business to the next generation.  We explain how in this law bulletin.
  9. Strategies for Treating Heirs EquitablyWhether heirs should inherit assets equally or equitably is a challenging dilemma for parents.  We present strategies for equitable distributions of assets in this bulletin.
  10. Strategies for Transferring Equipment and LivestockEquipment and livestock can be more difficult to transfer than other assets.  In this bulletin, we review special considerations and strategies that can help minimize the challenges of these transfers.

Find the entire set of bulletins on the Farm Office website law library at go.osu.edu/farmplanning.  We also cover these topics in our popular Planning for the Future of Your Farm Workshop, offered online and in person each winter.  The next online workshop will begin January 23, 2023--check our Events Page at farmoffice.osu.edu for workshop registration details.  Reading our new bulletins and attending our workshop are two first steps that can help you plan for the future of your farm.

This resource is provided with generous funding from USDA National Agricultural Library, in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center.

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