Agrarian Trust

Nothing Sucks Like Succession

By Dave Pratt


From the Ranch Management Blog.

You know how difficult it was to have that talk with your kids about the facts of life? There is a talk that you need to have with your family that is even more difficult. It’s about the facts of death.

We make all sorts of excuses to avoid it. In the short term, avoiding the discussion seems less stressful than dealing with what may be difficult and delicate issues.   We know that long term consequences of avoiding it can be disastrous.  The short term price of avoidance is continued stress and guilt.

Nobody wants to talk about it. Dad and Mom don’t want to talk about it because it means facing their mortality. Furthermore, they see the ranch as their legacy and want all of the kids to share in that, but they know that the ranch can’t support everyone.  They love all of their kids and want to treat them fairly, but somehow the equal distribution of assets doesn’t seem “fair.”   Then there’s the gold digger that Junior married and that bum your baby girl calls her husband.  Yes, they’ve been married for 10 years, but you know it isn’t going to last.

The kids don’t want to bring it up either. They don’t want to be seen as ungrateful vultures waiting for the folks to die so they can pick at the remains. But the clock is ticking and they need to know what the future holds.  The more years they invest on the ranch the less employable they become elsewhere.

No wonder we don’t want to deal with this.  Unfortunately, if we don’t deal with it we will dump a huge burden on the people we love most after we die, and that’s the best case scenario. More likely we will have sown seeds of resentment that can germinate into thorny relationships within our families for years to come. Oh, and while all of that is happening, our primary heir will be our Uncle Sam.

Ultimately we need professional advisors to determine the best vehicles to accomplish our goals. Before we meet with them there are some things we can do to lay a foundation for using them efficiently and creating the best plan possible.  In the next few editions of ProfitTips I’ll be sharing some thoughts about planning for succession.  I’m sure other ProfitTips readers would appreciate hearing your suggestions too. I know I would.