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Bringing Mom and Dad to the Table

There is no perfect time to start the farm transition conversation. Sometimes it's helpful to "Just Do It".

According to the 2021 census of agriculture, the median age of farmers is now 58 years old. The proportion of farmers aged 55 and over is now 60.5 per cent, while younger farmers now number 39.5 per cent of all operators.

With the aging of the farming population, a lot of my younger farming clients ask me: "how can I get the conversation started with my mom and dad about transitioning the farm? We know that transition is coming, but how do we get these issues out in the open and get started?"

A popular Nike slogan lends some helpful advice: "Just Do it".

Like starting a family or business, there really is no "right" time to start conversations about farm transition and succession planning. The only sure thing is, if you don't do it, it will never happen.

There are three ways you might consider raising these issues with your parents:

1. Informally bring up the topic (there is no limit to options here, could be in the truck, at the dinner table or in the farmyard)

2. Have a formal meeting (this option takes a little more time, but may provide some more structure to the discussion, an agenda is recommended)

3. Bring in a trusted advisor (if conversations are hard, bringing in an impartial advisor can help get the issues on the table and start the discussion)

Some of the pros and cons of each approach relate to their level of formality. If you start with the casual approach, you might run the risk of opening the discussion but having it stall out early. However, having a less formal conversation about the issues helps the parties open up and speak honestly about where they're at.

Setting a formal meeting structure can help you refine issues and keep everyone on track. When you're ready, having an impartial advisor in the room can also help discover new options, particularly when it comes to technical issues like wills, estate planning and taxes. An advisor may also help if families are having trouble getting their thoughts on the table.

At the end of the day, you know your family best, and what might work most effectively for you.

But if you "Just Do it", you can be assured that the hard work will pay off.

Our team at Dalke Law Office are here to assist you with your farm transition journey. We're passionate about agriculture and ready to lend a hand where we can. For assistance, please call 403-398-2496 or email for an initial consultation.

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