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Agricultural legacy planning requires much more than wills

Farmers in the Binghamton, New York, area may be considering the many years of hard work they put in and how they would deal with passing their legacies on to their successors. Transferring ownership, sharing management and control, and dividing assets require more than drafting wills and sitting back. The dynamics of each family who is involved in an agricultural business are unique, and looking at succession goals without emotion might be challenging.

Different family members and even in-laws often form part of an agricultural enterprise, making family meetings essential. Matters to discuss will include the roles and responsibilities of each person during the transition. It is also crucial to evaluate and prepare the leadership of the next generation. The successful continuance of a legacy often depends on the quality of the communication between all parties.

Some of the decisions to make will be complex and sensitive, such as distinguishing between fair and equal division and identifying inactive and active members of the family and the level of participation of in-laws. Setting guidelines for employment policies for the successors, their job descriptions and each party's accountability once they take over. Communication could prevent contention, especially if there are multiple heirs.

As with the processes of drafting wills, legacy planning can be simplified with the support and guidance of an experienced New York estate planning attorney. A lawyer can also explain the details of estate exemptions and the tax implications and liability when gifts and inheritances form part of estate plans. With a lawyer's assistance, the client's children and grandchildren can continue to walk the land as he or she did.

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