Easy to see, harder to do

Doing something well is tough and doing it well under pressure is even tougher, Myron Friesen says. And that includes farm estate planning.

A semi with a cattle pot is in a farm yard and appears to be preparing to back up to a portable loading chute.
Many things in life are like backing up a trailer: They can look easy from a bystander's perspective but are much harder to accomplish.
Hailey Walmsley / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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Have you ever noticed many people tend to be critical of how some else does whatever they are doing. For example, while watching a sporting event, they may be critical if someone misses a kick, misses a shot, drops a pass, or throws a bad pass. The next thing you know many of the “wannabes” in the crowd suddenly criticize many things as if they have made every shot in their life, never dropped the ball, and were "All Americans" at everything they did athletically. Often times some of the loudest and most critical never even participated in sports, let alone excelled.

After getting done with criticizing the athletes they start to criticize the referee for all the bad calls or missed calls. Oh, I know I have been frustrated with refs myself, but how many of those people have ever put a whistle in their mouth and tried to officiate a game? Not too many.

Critics are not limited to sports. What about watching someone back a trailer into a tough spot? Now some people can do that no problem and make it look easy while other people struggle like crazy — while someone watching from outside the vehicle criticizes every move saying turn this way, turn that way, go this way a little bit, go that way a little bit.

What about typing on the computer while someone else is watching? Just having someone looking over your shoulder, suddenly makes typing become a lot more challenging. Even routine words make your mind go to mush, and your fingers fumble, and the next thing you know you can’t type nearly as good with someone watching. In our office for many of our estate plans, we are typing right in front of a client on a screen, and I know for a fact typing while someone is watching is a challenge.

Do you ever feel like just saying, “If you know how to do this so well, here is the ball. Make the free throw to win the game in front of a screaming crowd." Or, "Here is the whistle. You run around and make every call perfect." Or, "Here are the keys. You back the trailer up on the first try." Or, "Here is the keyboard. You type every word fast with no spelling errors as we all watch.”


So, what about farm estate planning? Often times I hear people comment on how one farm family screwed up their plan, and how another family didn’t do things they way they should have. Then another family should have done it this way or that way or “if I was that child, I would not be happy”

Then reality sets in when the ball is in their hand and they are doing their own estate planning. Then suddenly comments like, “This is tough to know what to do," or "This is harder than it seems," or "I never knew we had this many options.” "How do we value sweat equity? How do we do it so none of our kids are mad? I don’t even understand all of these legal documents!" Then suddenly, they are asking how other people do it?

Hmm, maybe it is not so easy? Life is full of people who always think they know how someone else should do something. In reality, decisions can become more challenging in real time when taking into account all the previous history of the family and the financials. Doing something well is tough and doing it well under pressure is even tougher.

When you step back and look at it, there are actually quite a few things in life that may seem easy to do but when you actually do it yourself it may be more difficult than it seems.

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

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