Business owners, especially those with significant property or multiple beneficiaries, have unique challenges when it comes to planning for what happens after they pass away. Farmers and their families are particularly aware of this, especially when not all children want to carry on with farming.
Experts suggest that dealing with one another with compassion, even in tricky or possibly litigious situations, can help ease tension and keep families together through estate administration challenges.
Firstly, parents should consider the feelings of their children and vice versa. If parents are unsure of how their children feel or what their fears are, it may be wise to have some frank conversations. While not everyone may get what they want, this will at least allow them to explain decisions in a way that makes sense to each child.
Children, likewise, may be anxious for parents to complete estate planning but should be empathetic about the complexity and emotional toll the process can take.
In families with multiple children, empathy between siblings can also go a long way. Even if they did not choose a farming career path, non-farming siblings may still have financial burdens and feel entitled to inheritance. Siblings who are farming, meanwhile, might want to be compensated for any unpaid or underpaid labour or concerned about the cost of running the farm.
Regardless of what parents decide, siblings should be mindful that each party is entitled to his or her feelings and concerns. Beneficiaries should also consider how their parents feel about the situation and vice versa. However, even when people do their best to understand one another, estate litigation is a reality for some farming families who feel dishonesty or legal issues are at play. In these cases, it can be worth speaking to a lawyer to understand the estate litigation process and protect your interests.