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Does your estate plan represent your desires or your children's?

The author wonders, when designing your farm estate strategy, who is the most important person? Would all of your family members arrive at the same answer?

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Estate plans are not likely to align for all members of the family. Careful consideration needs to be given to the future of your legacy.
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Some churches have a little feature in their Sunday morning service called “Children’s Church.” The pastor invites all the younger children to the front of the church. There are two things I seem to observe during this part of the service. The first part is the lesson itself. The lesson is great and all ages can learn something from it. The second observation is that the responses and behavior of the kids are on full display.

Recently at the church we were attending around Christmas the pastor called the children forward and immediately asked the simple question, “Who is the most important?” Several of the older kids probably had the right answer and politely raised their hands while at the same time one of the younger children simply blurted out “me!” That gave everyone a good laugh, because everyone was thinking that was the wrong answer and the pastor quickly responded, “Well, there is at least one child probably being pretty honest.”

It made me think, when designing your farm estate strategy who is the most important person? Would all of your family members arrive at the same answer?

As the lesson went on, the obedience of all the children came on full display. There were children behaving very well listening to every word. Other children were talking, moving around, not paying attention, and just plain being naughty. Of course, you don’t have to be in church to see those differences because you can see that very well at a grocery store, a classroom or a shopping mall as well.

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I used to be amazed by children who misbehaved when their parents were not there but now I am even more blown away that kids are even more disrespectful, disobedient and flat out naughty right in front of their own parents and the parents don’t do anything. Why? Apparently, there is no fear of consequences.

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It made me think, how do you handle children that do not respect your farm distribution intentions?

So, at the end of the great lesson the pastor hands out some treats. Well-behaved or not, everyone gets a treat. They may seem fair to some while others may not see that as fair. I have also noticed a child ask for a preferred treat color. At a previous service the answer was “no,” at the next service the treat color was exchanged to please the child, and the next time the child was given what the pastor knew they wanted.

It made me think, does your estate plan reflect how you have trained your children or how they have trained you?

Children’s church is over and everyone returned to their seats. I think there were about 20 kids that went up that day and I remember about three to four children with “ants in their pants” getting most of the attention from the congregation. The other children politely walked back to their parents.

It made me think, do “problem children” get more attention in your estate plan while overlooking the well behaved?

It does not take much of an imagination to realize why farm estate distributions can turn into a royal rumble. Where did these problems start? Some kids are good at training adults. When little kids don’t get what they want they cry, scream, pout, whine, kick their feet and don’t come home. How do some "old kids" react to parent’s estate plans? Well, they cry, scream, pout, whine, kick their feet and don’t come home.

It made me think that I don’t worry about someone else’s children. I need to make sure things are handled with my own children!

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.

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