By now you’ve probably seen the headline: Estate Taxes Set to Go Up Significantly in 2013, and a lot more people will be paying them. Unfortunately, America’s farmers and ranchers are first and foremost on the list because rising land prices have increased the net worth of producers across the country.
By the time you read this, it is possible (and my sincerest hope) Farm Bureau and other ag advocacy groups will have carried the day in Washington and we have some sensible policy on this issue. Regardless of what happens next politically, now is the time to get an estate plan in place.
Estate planning is more critical for agricultural operations now than ever before because the stakes are higher on the tax side, and because family arrangements involved in maintaining and operating a family farm are more complicated. Good planning can ensure your loved ones are able to keep more of your assets away from the tax man, and also help avoid infighting and wasted resources within the family after you’re gone.
I’ll write more about both topics in upcoming editions of the magazine. First, I want to discuss five really bad excuses we hear from people for not putting together an estate plan:
1. It’s too expensive!
While there is some expense in setting up an estate plan, the price of having a plan done right almost always outweighs the cost and trouble for your loved ones if you have no plan or an outdated plan.
Both estate taxes and probate procedures can take a huge bite out of your assets, and both can be significantly mitigated or even avoided with a good plan.