I used to always think that farming after dark was awesome. There was something unique about being in a tractor looking around at the yard lights and scanning the area fields to see if anyone else was out. I never really thought about the lights on my own tractor. Most times, I would just hope that some lights turned on! Now I have nicer equipment and the lights are all around me. If there are not enough lights, then I just add a light bar! My view is amazing now.

Right now, as I dictate this column, I’m doing a little after-hours moving of some manure pump tractors. My tractors that I use for manure pumping are not the shiny green ones. I step back in time to an older Case and a couple old Allises. Actually, they work pretty well, but the lights to the front are about the width of the road and to the rear there are more lights about the width of the implement that the tractor could pull.

You know, sometimes when I’m doing estate planning, it seems like some people are stuck with a very narrow vision. Their ideas and their lights show only the path directly ahead of them. Yet, they focus much of their time looking backwards. They have not been exposed to HID lights showing opportunities and pitfalls . Whether we like it or not, the financial numbers in agriculture just keep getting bigger. Unfortunately, some farms continue to operate with a dimly lit vision and, in many ways, remain in denial about the value of the assets they have.

Sometimes I think about the families that I’ve met, and I know that some of the off-farm children have very little knowledge about the farm, and it would appear that some things may slide under the rug. Then someone passes away and all the HID lights come on for the estate. Suddenly it is a four-alarm fire, but in reality the fire has quietly been smoldering for years.

Recently I received a phone call from a farming son who was concerned about his parents’ estate distribution. His dad had already passed away and his mom was in her 80s. His sibling had a pattern of getting home to see mom only once about every three years. Recently she was flying into a town to see a friend about 50 miles from where her mother lived. The daughter was not going to take the time to drive the last 50 miles to see her mom, but she told her mom that if she wanted to meet, the mom could drive down to come see her. How thoughtful! The caller also identified that his sister was well aware that her half of the land would be about 400 acres.

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The son was wondering if there’s anything that could be done now. He now was recognizing his parents’ plan that was dimly lit will soon have the full-surround HID lights coming on. I felt bad for him as he said that now after nearly 40 years of farming, that the farm was soon to be cut in half for him and his son. I also wonder why he had not pressed sooner to get something done. Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your farm does not have to do any planning, but it will have to compete with those who do. It is time to turn on all the lights before your farm is in the dark!

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or friesen@farmestate.com.