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Estate planning for Pennsylvania farm families

Farmers often have a unique set of needs when it comes to planning their estates. For many, keeping their farms in their families are top priorities. At the same time, children are not always interested in continuing the family farming tradition. This can make it challenging to divide wealth equally, while also ensuring that the farms can continue to operate. Pennsylvania families have a number of estate planning options when addressing this issue.

Dividing real estate or business assets equally is a nearly impossible goal. For one thing, wealth that is held in a family farm is often far from liquid. This makes it difficult to allow some heirs to remain on the farm, while others take their share of the wealth and move on. This basic fact can lead to a great deal of contention between surviving loved ones.

In order to reach an outcome that is in line with one's wishes, it is necessary to sit down and discuss the matter with an estate planning attorney who is well-versed in handling farm ventures. The first step is to outline the desired outcome and to determine if that outcome is possible. From that point, an estate plan can be structured to meet one's goals.

Communication is also key. Heirs should be given the chance to understand what will happen to the family farm once a death takes place. This is an opportunity for all parties to discuss their estate planning expectations and to ask questions about the plan and the underlying reasoning behind decisions. Having everything out in the open can make it far easier for a Pennsylvania family farm to survive the loss of an owner and for the surviving loved ones to stay connected to one another through a difficult time.  

Source:, "Estate planning can lessen grief for survivors", Karen Binder, Dec. 31, 2015

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