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Conference Name Farm Succession Planning with Personal Coaching for Participating Families

Diana Roberts


County faculty from Washington and Oregon Extension initiated a farm succession planning project based on needs assessment of farm families in eastern Washington and Oregon. The project is funded by the Western Center for Risk Management Education and USDA-CSREES.

From 2006 to 2008 we held 3 farm succession planning workshops at each of 6 locations across the region. Participation in these workshops greatly exceeded expectations! Workshop topics included;
• reasons for developing a farm succession plan,
• communicating successfully with all family members involved,
• identifying appropriate professional input,
• an overview of relevant state laws,
• discussion on estate laws and writing wills,
• conducting successful family meetings,
• overcoming difficulties encountered in the process,
• making good use of attorney time,
• specifying inheritance of treasured personal items,
• protecting the business in the event of a sudden death,
• and getting motivated!

We recognize that farm succession planning is a challenging process. A unique feature of this project is that families who committed to developing a succession plan received free coaching throughout the project. The coaches were hired initially and trained by WSU to advise farm families who were experiencing financial difficulty. The coaches all had experience in business and/or the banking industry. They contacted the client families on a regular basis by phone or e-mail to encourage them through the steps of the process. If requested, they met in person with the client families to assist with goal-setting or to facilitate family meetings.