Assembling your estate planning team
Farm transition and succession planning is an important task for farmers at all ages and financial levels. Regardless of whether you are just starting out, thinking about retirement, or somewhere in the middle, you will need a personalized plan to help you achieve your specific goals. A successful farm estate plan requires a team of skilled advisors to analyze your unique situation and make recommendations.
The professional advisors needed may include an insurance agent, financial planner, tax professional, and attorney. These professionals can guide you through the estate planning process and help you avoid both common and technical pitfalls.
Getting started and finding an estate planning attorney can be a daunting task. One of the best ways to find an attorney (or other professional) is to seek referrals from people you trust who have had a legal issue similar to yours. You can then search for that attorney online and usually find additional information through their firm’s website.
It is important to conduct some due diligence when seeking to hire an attorney. Most states maintain online, publicly available databases listing information about their attorneys. While the information readily available varies from state-to-state, most states’ databases allow the public to verify that an attorney is licensed to practice, and that the attorney’s license is in good standing. While this cursory check does not guarantee that an attorney is competent, it is a key first step.
Another option is checking with your State Bar Association. Iowa has a Find-A-Lawyer program which can be a useful tool to help you in your search. You can search by both practice area and geographic location, for example ""Conservatorship and Estate Planning" or "Ames." Not all qualified attorneys, however, are listed in these services.
Women Managing Farmland programs and resources are financially supported by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture - Critical Agriculture Research and Education grant (2021-68008-34180) and a Farm Credit Services of America gift. For information on Women Managing Farmland courses, visit the Women in Ag website.
Kitt Tovar Jensen, staff attorney, Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Beginning Farmer Center coordinator, 515-294-5608, email@example.com