Hot, cold, wet, dry, wind, calm, sunny, cloudy. If you’ve been around awhile, I bet you’ve seen it all. Well, until I guess the next day or next year.
Sometimes in the middle of an appointment, people start describing all kinds of unique and sometimes crazy things about their family or their farm, and then they say one of two things. Either they say, “I bet you have never seen a farm or family as messed up as ours,” or “Oh, I bet you’ve seen it all.” Well, yes, I have seen a lot, but have I seen it all?
To name a few, I’ve seen brothers that have it all but still fight about everything. From the outside looking in, that farm looks impressive. From the inside looking out, everyone is miserable! I start to wonder if the next generation will be inheriting assets or misery.
I’ve seen families that appear to have every reason to fight, but they get along extremely well. Monetarily, nothing appears fair, everything seems like a struggle, and yet they all see each other at church on Sunday and genuinely care about each other.
I’ve seen farms and families that operate everything as a matter of fact without emotion. Business is business, and decisions are made with numbers. They don’t care if people don’t like it. Numbers don’t lie. Their farm has been built on accounting and strategies.
Other families are extremely emotional. I’ve seen Dads cry, Moms cry, kids cry. The farm means the world to them. Generations of stories to tell. The farm is the gold, and the family is the glue.
I’ve seen situations where families celebrate every event together, and other situations where children are so angry at their parents that they will not allow their parents to see the grandchildren. Heartbroken parents torn between unconditional love and anger.
I’ve seen farmers at age 62 want to retire, and I’ve seen 92-year-old men still running the combine. I’ve seen a 32-year-old farming heir die of cancer and a 96-year-old roll out from under a semi when I arrived for an appointment as he was overhauling the semi engine.
I’ve seen some families make all kinds of sacrifices to keep the farm together, and I’ve seen some parents willing to sell everything for their own comfort.
I’ve had appointments where humor is completely absent, while other appointments humor is a main ingredient. I’ve seen amazing humility and unbelievable arrogance.
I’ve seen $360,000 of farm assets and $360 million of farm assets. I’ve heard logic that is logical, and I’ve heard “rationale” that is actually “irrational.” I’ve seen those who appreciate everything and those who appreciate nothing.
I’ve seen those who have the ability to help everyone, but they help no one, and I’ve seen those with the resources to help no one, but they help everyone. I’ve seen those who need a loan for everything and those who need a loan for nothing. I’ve seen friends included and family excluded from estate plans.
I’ve seen those who want a plan for farm assets only and others who want a plan for distributing every picture on the wall and who will put flowers on their tombstone.
Yes, when doing estate planning, I’ve seen a lot, but I know I haven’t seen it all. Just a second. Oh my, you would not believe the phone call I just received. I have never heard that one before! I cannot even believe what they just described to me. I’ll save that story for another day!
Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or email@example.com.