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A family farm is much more than land and crops. It is the history, heritage and future of a family.

Sadly, one of the biggest (and most common) mistakes a family farm can make is failing to make an adequate transition plan for the next generation, or the next CEO. Passing on the family farm to the next generation ensures the legacy lives on. Creating a plan for the future long before its necessary will help ensure a successful transition. Essentially, a family farm needs to be run just like a corporation with strategic direction and policy. Even if a child or family member plans to take over, business still needs to come first, which means planning and successful communication.

It can be difficult for the owner of or CEO of a farm to let go of their role, and often will stick around long past retirement age, or be resistant to transition. If the farm has a board of advisors in their management plan, transitioning the outgoing leader into a Board Chairman capacity has numerous benefits. Not only does it create a meaningful role within the farm aside from retirement, it allows the new leadership to benefit from the wisdom of the last leader.

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Using Charitable Trusts in Your Retirement Planning

Land “rich” and cash “poor.” That describes Jim and Angela in a nutshell. While they actually live quite comfortably on their professional incomes, they are getting closer to retirement age and are looking for ways to supplement the income they expect from their employers’ retirement plans.

By far the largest asset they own is a tract of unimproved real estate that Angela received from her parents. Part of her family’s former farm, the property is located in a prime new development area, which has made its value increase over the past few years. But the land provides no current income.

What Can They Do?

Angela could sell the land to a developer now or at retirement and invest the proceeds in income-producing investments. Either way, she and Jim would lose a substantial portion of the property’s appreciation to capital gains tax.

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Analyzing the Flows in Your Financial Plan

by Brian Smith

For most investors—even those with significant wealth—a secure financial future doesn’t simply happen. Instead, it must be carefully crafted to help meet your most important goals and leave nothing to chance. Of course, the future is unpredictable and your own personal situation changes over time. That makes it all the more challenging to answer the most crucial of financial questions: Are you on track towards achieving your financial objectives?

As an investor looking to make the smartest possible decisions about your money, you need a comprehensive understanding of your current financial situation and a reliable roadmap of where you’re headed. The key lies in an important but often overlooked component of the financial planning process called cash-flow planning.

In short, cash-flow planning helps you determine if you’ll accomplish your goals and live the life you desire. It can give you the knowledge to better control your financial destiny. At a basic level, cash-flow planning is the process of analyzing your annual income sources, such as salary and investment income, against your annual income uses, such as debt, living expenses and taxes—in short, “money in” versus “money out.”

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Are Your Assets Really Diversified?

You've heard the old investment adage, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." It's good advice. A diversified portfolio should be at the core of any well-planned investment strategy. While a worthy goal at any age, it's especially desirable as your net worth grows over the years.

The basic purpose of diversification is to reduce your portfolio risk and volatility. It's primarily a defensive type of investment policy. Depending on your investment goals and tolerance for risk, your strategy may emphasize one type of investment over another. But overall, your portfolio should be diversified. That's because no single type of investment performs under all economic conditions. A diversified portfolio is capable of weathering varying economic cycles and improving the trade-off between risk of loss and potential return. Of course, diversification cannot entirely eliminate the risk of investment losses or cannot guarantee a profitable investment return. Diversification can lower the risk of a portfolio.

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How Can I Discuss Finances with My Parents?

Managing an Inheritance

by Brian Smith

An inheritance in the form of cash, real property, jewelry or stocks can enrich your life in many ways. Oftentimes, bequests from an estate are intended to help move the heir forward financially, or to keep a prized possession within the family. To fully realize the value of an inheritance, consider how the assets affect your overall financial plan.Last Will and Testament

The key to successfully managing any inheritance is to plan before you act. Certain types of inheritances may require you to make some decisions right away, but it’s crucial to be conservative in your actions and allow yourself some time to grieve. Then, work with financial advisors to maximize the value of your inheritance and decide whether to keep it, share it, invest it or liquidate it. Your options depend on your personal and financial circumstances, long-term goals and the type of inheritance involved.

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Financial Planning for a Family Farm

by Megan Spain

Family farms are a quintessential piece of the American landscape both past and present. However, the family farm is at great risk of disappearing. Half of all the farmland in the US is owned by farmers over the age of 55, and there aren’t enough new farmers entering the field.¹Family Farm

Often these family farm properties are swept up by commercial agricultural operations at the time of sale further endangering small farms. The business of running a profitable farm is more complex than ever, especially for new farmers.

I believe that now, more than ever, there is a growing demand for financial planners who are well versed in the business of running a farm. A financial advisor can help family farms navigate changing and complex tax laws, manage and increase personal wealth and retirement savings, as well as protect the legacy of the farm with estate planning.

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