Big, medium and small farms all need estate plans and more

2013-02-09T13:35:00Z Big, medium and small farms all need estate plans and moreBy ANDREA JOHNSON Assistant Editor Minnesota Farm Guide
February 09, 2013 1:35 pm  • 

St. CLOUD, Minn. – Starting a farm requires a tremendous amount of effort, investment, knowledge and nurturing.

Farmers generally want to see their farm continue even after they can no longer work the land or care for the livestock.

As farmers consider the future, their decisions include making goals for their farm.

To meet their goals, farmers will need to work with attorneys and the “laws of the land.”

Two distinguished attorneys will provide a special presentation on Thursday, Feb. 28 from 11 to noon, entitled, “Keeping the Farm in the Family” at the Central Minnesota Farm Show located in the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center. There is no charge for admission to the farm show or to attend the presentation.

The attorneys are Kale Van Bruggen and Jacqueline M. Schuh.

Schuh practices in estate planning, probate and estate administration, business law, employment law and civil litigation, and has over 20 years of experience. She handles simple and complex estate planning, including farm properties and farming equipment.

She’s worked with many farmers and farm families in central and northern Minnesota to create plans that provide protection and assurance to farmers who intend for the family farm to continue. She’s also created plans for those who may want the family farm to stay in the family for sentimental reasons.

“There are many opportunities to meet the goals of clients who have farmed and desire to protect the family farm,” she said. “There are also many pitfalls that can occur. We hope to provide some general ideas of options as well as issues to watch out for.”

An adjunct professor at St. Cloud State University, Schuh is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Minnesota National Guard, having served as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for over 20 years.

She joined the St. Cloud law office of Engelmeier & Umanah in January 2013.

Van Bruggen concentrates his St. Cloud-based practice in agricultural law, including farm benefits, insurance disputes and drainage, environmental and water law, and succession planning for family farms. He began practicing with Rinke Noonan in August 2012.

Schuh and Van Bruggen will discuss and take questions about estate planning and the Minnesota Qualified Farm Property Deduction – part of the exemption that Minnesota farmers have from estate tax.

“We’re going to be going over state and a little bit of federal estate tax liability, and just generally trying to help farmers be alert and aware of things they need to know for planning on passing on the family farm to their children in the next generation,” said Van Bruggen.

Every farm is unique and so are estate plans. Some farmers want to maintain strong lease agreements with trusted renters. Others want to see their children farm and use the farm’s assets. Still others want to sell their land at profitable prices.

“With farm commodities being so good right now, you are seeing more children wanting to come back to the farm,” he said. “If farmers want to ensure that the farm stays in their family and passes on to that next generation, we figure out how to best do that and ease that transition and reduce the tax consequences so that the children are left with the farmland their parents worked on and generated for them.”


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