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10 Ways Family Members Sabotage the Implementation of a Ranch Transition Plan 

Initiating difficult conversations now will ultimately reduce stress and uncertainty and benefit every agricultural family.
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Estate planning is a process that is often avoided because it deals with issues regarding people, property, laws and taxes – issues that family members may not be ready to think about.  

But planning an estate can benefit every agricultural family. The process of creating a plan reduces the stress and uncertainty of not talking about important issues. We know that estate planning can be confusing and broaching the subject can be a difficult conversation to start.  

The personal side of estate planning often worries people the most, particularly how to have a productive conversation. Robert Fetsch, a family development specialist with the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and the Wyoming Agriculture & Natural Resource Mediation Program and University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Extension Service list 10 general ways family members can sabotage the development or implementation of a farm or ranch transition plan: 

  1. Procrastinating. Delaying to make transition plans until it’s very late in the process.
  1. Avoiding planning or making decisions; ignoring transition planning altogether.
  1. Refusing to discuss the subject of estate transfer.  
  1. Blaming others for problems; staying angry.  
  1. Doing all you can to block the younger generation from any involvement in goal setting or decision making until they are middle aged.  
  1. Refusing to listen to other family members’ viewpoints.  
  1. Holding total control of the family business.
  1. Assuming others know what you want (not discussing your wishes about transfer with family members).
  1. Making sure all your sense of worth, your identity and life’s meaning come solely from the business; resisting transfers to the next generation.
  1. Not paying attention to wake-up calls like a farm/ranch accident, illness, death or major choice point by offspring (e.g., an opportunity for them to take a job in town).

Farm coach Elaine Froese offers practical tips and advice to help avoid conflict on the farm on this episode from The Impact Farming Show.


Tailored Advice From Experts

Would you like more information on Trust in Beef topics from the experts?

Additional Resources

Watch NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner profiles. See how the beef industry showcases its stewardship, conservation and business practices that work together on farms and ranches.

Blair Brothers Angus Ranch – South Dakota

Gracie Creek – Nebraska

Beatty Canyon Ranch – Colorado

JY Ferry & Son, Inc. – Utah

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