To succeed in your farm/ranch succession plan, communication is essential. You and your family will probably need to talk, discuss, think, debate and talk some more. Starting the conversation can be one of the hardest parts of farm or ranch succession planning, but it’s also one of the most important.
Here are some tips for good family communication:
- Start early. This will give you time to discuss, reflect, debate and revisit issues. You can gather the necessary information and make informed decisions together.
- Be good listeners. Give everyone the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, needs and desires. The more we know and understand, the better the final decisions will be.
- Respect each other, even if you disagree.
- Get him to safety. If everyone feels safe, you and your family can discuss anything. When we are not afraid of being attacked or humiliated, we will be more open and honest.
- Remember who is on your succession planning team. Not everyone included in the discussions will need to be part of the final decisions. But do not keep your inheritance or estate plan a secret as this will lead to family disputes.
Don’t jump straight to the decision-making stage, as it will be easier to move forward once everyone has started talking and shared a pool of knowledge. Conversations don’t need to start and end in the same setting; these are fact finding missions and can be picked up at any time as you find more facts.
When you’re ready to have the conversation, start at the beginning. Start by sharing and gathering information. This will be the easiest conversation to get everyone involved!
Want to learn more about how to start the conversation about farm or ranch succession and the planning process? Consider attending one of the NDSU Extension Design Your Succession Plan workshops. This program will provide tools and resources to producers in North Dakota who wish to begin the process of succession planning.
Participants will have the opportunity to open the lines of communication with the family to create a shared vision for the family business. They will also learn how to choose and work with professionals such as lawyers, accountants, lenders, insurance agents, and tax experts to develop a plan and documents that put the family’s vision into action.
The program will prepare you to imagine, communicate, plan, write, and shape the legacy of your family farm or ranch, as well as save hundreds of dollars by following these crucial planning steps before meeting the professionals.
The Design Your Estate Plan program is offered locally in Jamestown as a two-day workshop March 15-22 at the Stutsman County Extension Office. Dinner will be served at 5:00 p.m. and the program will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each evening. Registration is mandatory before March 1st. The cost of registration depends on the number of family members present.
For more information or to register, contact the Stutsman County Extension Office by calling 701-252-9030 or emailing [email protected]
Alicia Harstad is North Dakota State University’s Stutsman County Extension Officer for Agriculture and Natural Resources