From the Farm Transitions Network: Dividing Up the Assets Based on Contributions To the Farm

By Teresa Opheim • Senior Fellow, Renewing the Countryside

If you own farmland and have both farming and non-farming heirs, which of the following goals comes first:

1. treating all your heirs financially equally; or

2. allowing your farming heir to continue farming?

Given land prices and other factors, you may not be able to do both.

For the Gilbert family that choice has been clear for generations: They want the farming heir to continue farming.

“Off-farm heirs expectations should be in line with the contributions they’ve made,” John Gilbert says. “These can include assisting with elderly parents’ care, providing services to the farm operation–marketing, legal, accounting–and periodic farm labor and management. Just being a son or daughter shouldn’t automatically entitle you to an equal share.”

To read the Gilbert family’s complete story, click here.