This fall, I added a new driveway at a hog barn site. Why? Because I hate it when people drive on the grass. I probably should’ve done this a long time ago, but now the new driveway goes between barns, and it’s really nice for semis to loop through.

Problem solved, right? Wouldn’t you know, after only one week of having that nice wide driveway in place, two different truck drivers have already been off the driveway driving in the grass. For goodness sakes, the driveway is wider than a state highway and the turns are wide enough for a windmill blade, but no, for some reason they still drive on the grass. That drives me crazy.

Growing up, I’m pretty sure I observed that you drive on the rock and stay off the grass, regardless of where you were. Maybe I was told, but I know that I never drove on the grass, ever. This simple understanding and expectation has been with me all my life and I’ve passed that expectation onto my children. You don’t cut corners, you respect your own property and for sure other people’s property. You never drive on the grass. Is that too much to ask or expect? Apparently, it is.

Around our barn sites and land, we have had plenty of employees, mailmen, delivery trucks, feed trucks, and equipment operators drive on the grass or cut the corners at some point. Why is that? Did their parents never teach them? Do they not respect property or people? Do they not care? Is that how they treat their own yard?

So, what is the point as it relates to your family and farm estate plan? Actually, there are a couple things that came to my mind immediately when I observe someone “driving on the grass”:

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  • Some people, regardless of how wide the driveway, still can’t stay on the path that is there. Apparently, they feel entitled to just want more and more. However wide the “driveway” is, it’s never wide enough.
  • Some people do not respect what you have or what your intent is. You want it nice and neat and they don’t care. They look at things from their point of view only and have no concern for what your thoughts might be.
  • Some people weren’t taught very well. Parents, your children are your students. Sometimes the teacher isn’t very good and other times the students don’t listen to the teacher.

So when you’re making the “driveway” for your farm estate, how wide do you need to make it? Do you just keep making it wider and wider to suit everyone? Eventually, someone has to ask “who pays for widening the driveway?” Do you need to put stakes and flags on the edges of your driveway to keep people off the grass? Do you need to put up more signs to help people understand? If someone does damage, who’s going to pay for and fix the damage? Are there fines and penalties for driving on the grass?

Are you making the connections here? Eventually we all have certain limits where we have to say, “Enough.” We can’t just keep "widening the driveways" more and more and more. For most estate plans, you have to say “this is how wide the driveway is going to be” and then put stakes along the borders of the driveway and, if necessary, implement penalties for those who drive in the grass and don’t understand your intent.

How are your driveways? Needs some work? If you already have “nice driveways” and you observe someone willing to drive on the grass, are you going to make the driveway wider or put some stakes in the ground?

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.