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Advance planning can protect a family farm from estate litigation

When it comes to making a fair and well-documented plan for the future, farmers certainly have some unique considerations. What does it mean to treat kids fairly when most wealth is in property? How can one keep farmland in the family? Advance planning on the part of Ontario farmers can prevent some of these tough questions from making their way to estate litigation after they pass on.

The first step to estate planning for farmers is taking full stock of the assets they have, as well as the ownership of each asset. Debts should also be considered. Compiling documents, including contact information for financial advisors, lawyers and business partners, will help complete the picture of what exists and who is involved.

The next step is to draft documents that lay out plans for who should get what, as well as who takes on responsibility should the farmer become incapacitated. Plans should be made for the transition of the business, as well as any property. Farmers, and anyone else preparing estate plans, should consider not only what happens when they pass away but also other health care eventualities, such as loss of capacity or end-of-life decisions.

These are far from enjoyable topics to think about, and often, easy answers are hard to come by. This is especially important to have a plan in cases where there are multiple children and not all have an interest in farming.

In the end, it's your choice what happens to your property after passing away. An Ontario lawyer can help to clarify options in the planning process or, if estate litigation becomes necessary, can clarify options and support family members to find a resolution.

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