Agriculture farmstead and cropland

Families Plan for Farm Estate Succession

Estate Planning – a Complex Issue

Iowa citizens need help and incentives to prepare an estate plan. Reasons for not following through on planning may be lack of knowledge regarding taxation implications, lack of understanding of the issues, and not knowing what resources are available that can help them.

Extension’s Response

To address this issue the Extension farm management team took the initiative to develop an interactive program with workshops, Evaluating Your Estate Plan (EYEP),that focuses on Iowa farm families and farm succession. EYEP participants learn about various issues relating to estate planning and strategies for organizing their farm estate, how tax laws may impact them, and how to create their own professional team once the class has ended. Another key topic EYEP stresses is the importance of communication among family members.


Follow-up evaluations, completed six months after attending the workshops, showed significant behavior changes, with 69% of respondents holding a family meeting, and 79% increasing discussions with their spouse. Eighty-four percent of participants stated they were likely to visit their attorney as a result of participating in EYEP; 64% indicated that they had indeed met with their attorney. One-third of respondents had created a medical directive or power of attorney and updated or created a will. Half of the respondents set estate planning goals, reviewed ownership of assets and their life insurance policy/beneficiaries.


Evaluations of participants showed effective educational impacts. There was increased understanding of the basics of estate planning and how to address common issues. Ninety-five percent of the participants in the initial round of workshops stated that as a result of EYEP, they know what documents they need when visiting an attorney about their estate plan. The combination of workshops, educational materials, and on-line resources will continue to have a positive impact beyond the participants to their families and their farm business. The greatest impact shown in follow-up evaluations was increased communications and involvement of family in decision making.


Kelvin Leibold, Farm and Ag Business Management Specialist, 641-648-4850,
Melissa O’Rourke, Farm and Ag Business Management Specialist, 712-737-4230,

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