Long Term Leases Provide a Valuable Tool In Farm Succession Planning as Recent Court Case Highlights

Wind.      Farm.

Wind turbines on farmland in Iowa.  Image by Mark Hesseltine from flickr.com.

The article is not a substitute for legal advice. 

Developing a farm succession plan that allows the next generation to take over the farm and provides for non-farm heirs is not an easy task. Often you will want to treat your children equally but keeping the farm viable for the next generation may not allow for equal treatment. Dividing the farmland equally may result in one heir getting fewer acres needed to support a family. Your heirs are human and will potentially carry grudges against a sibling. A recent decision out of Iowa highlights what can happen when a farm succession plan fails. In Gent v. Gent, Thomas sought an injunction from the Iowa courts to limit how his brother, John, could utilize family farmland John had leased. John had initially leased the farmland from their parents for twenty-five years. This court decision highlights why families should work to develop plans that work towards their goals. There is no one size fits all approach in this process and families will have to understand that communicating, goal setting, and adopting can be important in this process. Continue reading