Developing a Distribution Plan for Your Ohio Farm: The Fundamentals

Over the next several posts, we’re going to tackle an essential topic to educate Ohio farmers who want to protect their heirs, minimize the chances for unfortunate tax consequences, and ensure peace of mind for the family and everyone else touched by the farm: the distribution plan.

Your distribution plan should abide by certain rules and principles. Here's a four step process to surface these guiding ideas, so that you can be better prepared.

Step 1. Get clear about your purpose.

Why do you want to create a distribution plan in the first place?

Do you want to secure the legacy of your farm for the next several generations? Do you want to protect your spouse and your children (and your children’s children) from financial hardship or infighting after your death? Do you simply want to get organized, so you can cross “create distribution plan” off your to-do list and focus on other projects?

Defining your purpose will give you important decision making criteria.

Step 2. Get clear about how you’d like to work through the process.

We all have unspoken beliefs about how our businesses should and shouldn’t work. You might expect people who work on your farm to avoid stealing or to commit to working full seasons at a time. Imagine tasking someone else to come up with a distribution plan for you. What would you tell that person to do and to avoid doing? Make a list. Here's an example:

  • "Finalize the plan within three months."
  • "Minimize estate taxes by investgating Special Use Valuations, conservation easements, and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts."
  • "Make sure the plan is fair to all my children."
  • "Set up a process so I can review and potentially amend the distribution plan every year."

Step 3. Brainstorm ideal solutions.

During the brainstorming stage, don’t restrict your thinking. Imagine the scenario from an idealized point of view, as if you were looking back on an excellent, well done project. How do you feel about the plan? What has it done for you? How has it helped you run your farm better?

Step 4. Organize the brainstorming and take action to start making the plan a reality.

We’ll dive deep into the critical details in subsequent posts on this topic. If you're eager to get started protecting your farm and ensuring a fair distribution plan for your Ohio farm, call Gudorf Law Group, LLC today at 1-877-483-6730 to set up a confidential and thorough consultation.

Finally, reflect on the powerful words of William Hutchison Murray:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”