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Family Farms

Preserving Family Farms

Curt W. Ferguson grew up on a farm, and his heart never really left. Known along with his associates, Sam and Marcus, as “The Farmers’ Estate Planning Attorneys,” Curt has been helping farm families develop and maintain plans to carry out their estate transfer and preservation objectives for more than twenty years. He shares his experience with the agricultural community in the monthly Estate-Plan Edge™ column of Illinois’s premiere farm publication, the Prairie Farmer®.

Estate planning is never a one-size-fits-all proposition, and keeping a farm in the family requires certain unique, targeted strategies. Your farm family cannot follow the same simplistic approach as would someone with merely “cash investments” to pass on. Farm life itself is unique, and it carries certain values that city folks just can’t understand. It is important to work with professionals who can relate to your world. 
When we help your family design your plan, you will start with literally no limits on your creativity. Who should be able to operate the farm? Who will get the benefit of land ownership? Are they allowed to sell the land before they have taken a reasonable amount of time to appreciate the steady income it can provide? If any one heir decides to sell, will the others have the right to buy him out? Do you want to give anything directly to your grandchildren, maybe to fund their college education? How about your church or other worthy causes you believe in? If you are married and your spouse survives, what about a ‘gold-digger’ who might marry for money? If your heirs get sued, would you like to protect the inheritance from the lawsuit? If a child gets divorced, can the in-law have anything? How much or how little control should each heir receive? 
You may be asking, “What about avoiding estate taxes?” Of course you don’t want to leave your farm to ‘Uncle Sam’! Once we know what your personal (non-tax) objectives are—who should get what, when, and how—we can determine whether estate taxes are an issue at all.  If so, we have the process, the knowledge, and the experience it takes to help you transfer your estate—whether it is worth $1,000,000 or $100,000,000—without estate taxes. Minimizing or avoiding both state and federal estate taxes can be an extremely complex task on a large estate. We can help you take the required steps to move maximum family wealth legally, efficiently, and safely to future generations. 
Finally, we believe that your real legacy consists of much more than simply the property you will leave behind. We will help you develop your complete legacy, addressing equally important—perhaps the most important—issues of passing on the family heritage, stories, values, and wisdom.
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©2014, Curt W. Ferguson, all rights reserved.