Farm Families

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What To Do With The Family Farm

A well-thought-out plan for the farm family is critical to its sustainability, particularly in difficult economic times.

What You Know

Farmers are very comfortable with the stages of farming: the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops; the lifecycle and maintenance of livestock, whether for dairy or produce. They can recite the weather forecast for the next week before most folks know what the weather is like outside today. They understand equipment purchases, lease options, budgeting for the lean years and lending a helping hand to a neighbor in need.

But they are often uncomfortable about the topic of the future of their operation. Famers believe there is a lot of time to think about it and too much to do today. Before they know it, life happens, uncertainty takes hold, and unintended consequences happen.

According to WealthCounsel, LLC, 70% of the farmland belonging to the current generation will change hands over the next 20 years. 88% of farmers are not on the track to pass on the family farm through a defined exit strategy nor do they know how to develop one. One thing is for certain: the current generation holding the reins on the family farm is getting older.

Questions You May Have

  • What will happen to me and my wife after our children are gone and we find ourselves slowing down?
  • Do any of my children want to assume responsibility for our farm? Are they ready?
  • How can I help my children be ready for the responsibility that comes with farm ownership?
  • What if my child does not want to continue the farm? What are my options?
  • How do I gauge the potential impact of such risks as health issues, financial upsets, and longevity?
  • Are there ways to plan that minimize the tax liability and protect my family from the uncertainty of life events while maintaining control during my lifetime?
  • Is it better to hold my farm and equipment or sell it now? What might be the impact of waiting?
  • How do I balance being fair with my children and still maintain sufficient assets to support the farm?
  • Does a farm transition plan mean that I lose control?
  • What happens if farming partners split?
  • Can I gift some of my assets over my lifetime?

How We Can Help

Wilson Law Group understands the dilemma. We understand the need to preserve the legacy that has been passed on for generations and cared for over the years. The time has come that not only is a plan needed to plant the seeds for next year’s crop, but also a plan to plant the seeds for the next generation, either within or beyond your family.

We have dedicated a significant portion of our practice to learning and understanding the problems that face the family farm and the solutions available through estate and succession planning.

We understand that farmers have nurtured and built a strong family tradition; one of honor, hard work and perseverance. A well-thought-out estate plan combines both the financial and emotional impact of transitioning your family farm during and after your lifetime.


With offices in Madison, WI, the attorneys at Wilson Law Group assist clients with Estate & Business Planning, Probate & Trust Administration, and Elder Law & Medicaid Planning throughout Southern Wisconsin.