Farmers and ranchers are getting older, averaging over 55 years of age in South Dakota. The next generation, producers in the 35-45 year old age group, decreased over 40% from 2002 to 2007. Sustaining the Legacy was designed to provide tools necessary to help families start estate and transition plans. Participants interview attorneys, insurance agents and financial planners with farm estate expertise to investigate the best tools for their operations. To increase family communication, participants define personalities, develop goals, and begin family meetings.
Pre-conference evaluations showed 52% of participants did not have an estate plan. They needed help with: how to get started, what tools are available, and how to utilize tools to accomplish goals.
Follow-up survey results from 2008-2012 participants (n=74 returned from 279 family operations) showed 82% have started their estate plan and 79% have started a transition plan. For estate plans, 44% of participants consider their plan 75% or more completed, with 15% declaring it 100% complete. For transition plans, 38% consider their plan 75% or more completed, with 17% indicating 100% completion.
The type and number of changes made to participants’ plans indicate the program has been educational and motivating. Changes made included: 52% updated their will(s) (x=43), 51% communicated with heirs (x=38), 46% created a trust (x=38), 15% modified life insurance policies and gifted assets (x=12), 11% completed funeral planning (x=9), 10% added retirement accounts (x=8), and 6% sold assets to heirs (x=5).
We will share pitfalls for family communication, finding speakers, and Extension’s role.