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Family Home? Start the Succession Planning Conversation

By   /  December 7, 2015  /  Comments Off on Family Home? Start the Succession Planning Conversation

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It’s that time of year when family comes together. That means that if you haven’t started the talk about succession planning, now might be a good time to start. This is never an easy conversation to have, so the Farm Journal Legacy Project has put together some tools to help you along the way. You might start with these conversation openers:

Succession Conversation Starters 1

You can click to see these larger. Or use the link "Conversation Starters" above to download the PDF.

You can click to see these larger. Or use the link “Conversation Starters” above to download the PDF.

If you’re not ready for the full conversation, you might set up a time for a family meeting later. Sharing the Legacy Project’s suggested agenda with everyone who might be involved is a good way to start thinking about what you’ll want to talk about and it will help you create an agenda that works best for you. Here’s a summary of the ten steps in the agenda. You can download a pdf of the agenda here.

  1. Cover of Family Meeting AgendaHow do you define succession?
  2. Who’s involved and to what extent? This might be a good place to define the farm operation, describe what you see as an ideal transition. Who are the key people, from family members to personnel?
  3. Who will step in? How many generations will be affected? If any key personnel has to step out for any reason in the near or immediate future, what is Plan B? The idea behind this part of the conversation is to see this as a transition, not just a transaction.
  4. Getting started with the steps in the process. Work together to build a plan. You’ll be looking at things like Ownership Transition, Financial Security, Leadership Development, and Estate Planning.
  5. What are the next steps that you want to take? Two-way communication is key.
  6. What are the common objectives? Some may be related to financial security, preparing the next generation, and operational integrity.
  7. What are obstacles you can foresee? Some may include: Equal vs. Fair, Active vs. Inactive Family, and In-Laws.
  8. What additional hiccups do you foresee? What sort of decision making process should be implemented?
  9. What are the benefits of a successful transition? How can the family move through the process?
  10. What does a successful process look like? What outside help will be involved? Accountants, attorneys, other advisors?

We’ll be sharing more about how you can work with your family to transition your business in a way that helps ensure everyone’s happiness and success. And you can jump ahead too by heading over to the Farm Journal Legacy Project to see if they have the answers you need right now.

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About the author

editor and contributor

Rachel's interest in sustainable agriculture and grazing has deep roots in the soil. She's been following that passion around the world, working on an ancient Nabatean farm in the Negev, and with farmers in West Africa's Niger. After returning to the US, Rachel received her M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Maryland. For her doctoral research, Rachel spent 3 years working with Maryland dairy farmers using management intensive grazing. She then began her work with grass farmers, a source of joy and a journey of discovery.

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