More Tips To Pass on the Family Farm : Part II

Farm families are known to work together. They start the children young, hoping that eventually they will grow up and want to take over. This happens but so does the opposite. Many children move away instead of working on the farm.

As you age, you may be thinking of you and your children’s future, as well as what will happen to the farm. Even if you end up continuing to work, your children will start taking over.

Here are some more tips to passing on the family farm.

Have the discussion in a neutral place. Though many discussions occur around the dining room table, which is usually the only place everyone is at the same time, that is not the place for this one. Because some emotions may get tested, it might be more helpful to talk about this in the presence of a lawyer.

You may also want to include your farm’s accountant in this discussion because you are going to be talking about how well the farm is doing, what it spends on a yearly basis, how much money it brings in, and much more. By having both of these people included, it can become more of a discussion of the future of the farm. Together, you can decide who is going to be making most of the decisions, who is going to do what work, and much more.

This plan needs to be put in writing as soon as possible. Even if everyone seems to be happy, it can all change after your death. Siblings who have always gotten along may start to fight. One might want to sell the farm while others want to keep it. For this reason, it needs to be written down so you (and your family’s) wishes are carried out the way that you want.

Review it often (especially with changes that may occur to the family). Things change. While one may be interested in the farm today, they might find that they would rather do something else. Divorce, marriage, death, and even the birth of new children and grandchildren can change everything. Make sure you (and the whole family) update the plan for the farm regularly.

Once you have a plan in place, don’t forget to review it often and make changes as necessary. Your children may marry and have grandchildren. They may decide that they want to move away. You may lose someone in the family, making it necessary to make changes to the business plan for the farm.

Contact us to help you keep the farm in the family.

Estate Planning: Tips To Pass on the Family Farm

Most farm families work together through the years. Children start helping out around the farm young. Some parents hope that their children will grow up and want to take over. Some may move away but others may stay.

As you get older, you might want to think about passing the farm onto your children. Even if you stick around and help out for a few more years, you may want to give them more of the heavy lifting so you can take the breaks that you need as you age.

Here are some tips to passing on the family farm.

Decide that you are going to make a succession plan. The first step in the process is deciding that everyone involved wants to come up with a plan of passing the farm on and then putting it on paper!

Involve everyone in the family. Even if you have a child who is not interested in the farm, he or she should be involved in the discussion. You can’t just hand over the farm without giving your other children something. That is simply not fair. Everyone needs to be happy with the results, especially those who are not going to get the farm.

Make it a discussion about the long-term goals of the farm, not just about giving the children the farm. Many older farmers continue to farm long into their retirement years. For this reason, they may not be completely giving up the farm. Instead, they are thinking about working together and giving the children more responsibilities. Some children may start to take over, asking their parents for help when needed instead of the other way around.

Passing down the family farm might be the dream but it comes with some challenges. It is important to get everyone on board and sit down and talk about the farm. It often helps to make the discussion more about where the farm is heading and what the plan is, instead of just handing it over. You should involve your lawyer and accountant so you can truly discuss how the business is doing and where you want it to go.

Contact us to help you keep the farm in the family.

Not Every State Handles Guardianships as Well as Texas

Guardianship laws exist to ensure our loved ones and their property receive proper protection and care when they are no longer able to care for themselves (we call them “wards”). The legal process, however, can be overwhelming and intimidating. Fortunately for Texans, we have a streamlined and sophisticated guardianship system that provides the utmost protection for potential wards.

This month’s New Yorker Magazine exposes serious problems with guardianships in the State of Nevada. Sadly, in Nevada, guardianships were unnecessarily and easily imposed on many individuals, without notification or representation by an attorney. Unscrupulous people took advantage of Nevada’s relaxed guardianship laws and successfully applied to be guardians over people who were strangers, and who did not need be in a guardianship. This was happening with essentially no legal protection afforded to the wards or their families. Nevada has reportedly passed legislation to eliminate this tragic trend.

In Texas, the guardianship laws are vastly more protective, and a proposed ward’s constitutional right to due process is protected. Amongst numerous other protections, the Texas Legislature requires that close relatives of a proposed ward are notified of proceedings, and the court must appoint an attorney to protect the legal interests of all potential wards in every guardianship case in Texas.

Ford + Bergner LLP’s guardianship law experts focus on complex guardianship issues every day, and we have helped hundreds of guardianship clients. The attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP can answer any question you may have concerning guardianships in Texas.

Does Your House Get Taken Out of a Trust If You Refinance?

In Texas, the use of revocable living trusts is not as usual as in other states.  However, when a Texan owns real estate in another state, then it can be advantageous to place that real estate in a revocable living trust.  If you own a vacation house or other real estate outside of Texas and decide to put that property into a trust, consider that life is long and you may end up refinancing your house, but if you do, does it get taken out of the trust?

Typically when you refinance a house held in a living trust, the lender will require the owners to take it out of the trust in order to get the new loan. After the loan, you can then transfer it back in. Most often this is the case because the loan officers want to check your individual credit ratings, but it depends on the lender. Some lenders are willing to give a new loan without the living trust shuffle being necessary. However, if you are refinancing, you should expect to have to create and record the deed transferring out of the trust in order to qualify for that loan.

Frequently, owners forget to close the loop on this process by executing the deed after the refinancing to place the house back in the trust.  Because placing your vacation home into trust can allow you to avoid probate outside of Texas, it is important to remember to take this final step.

If you have held off putting your vacation house in your living trust because you think you might need to refinance someday – Don’t. Taking a house out and putting it back in is actually a relatively painless process, and a good lawyer can help walking you through the process. If you need to set up or manage a trust, contact us today.

3 Reasons Why Estate Planning Is Necessary Even If You Have No Children

If you don’t have any children, you may think that it’s not as important to make a plan for your estate. However, estate planning is important even for couples without children. Here are a few reasons why you should get in touch with an estate planning attorney right away and not push it off.

Designate Power of Attorney

It’s important to give someone you trust your power of attorney. Do this for both your financial and medical needs; it does not have to be the same person for both. Doing this will ensure that if you are incapacitated and unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself, someone you know and trust will be able to make and carry out the right decisions for your healthcare needs and financial assets.

Designate Beneficiaries

Who will get your assets when you pass away? You may want to give them away to friends, extended relatives, or charity.  If you don’t write a Will, the court will be the one who ends up deciding what to do with your assets, and many times the extended family will fight over how best to divide your assets.

Include Your Partner

Writing a Will is especially important if you are not legally married but have a relationship with a significant person whom you would like to benefit under your Will.  If there is no legal relationship, then they won’t get access to your assets unless you include them in your will. They may not even be able to visit you in the hospital if you are incapacitated. There are many ways to include someone with whom you have a significant relationship in your estate.  A professional estate planning lawyer will be able to examine your situation and help you out.

Contact us today for all of your estate planning needs.