To plant or not to plant mirrors the decision to plan estates or not to plan

Just as planting decisions are easier to make some years than others, estate planning decisions are easier for some people than others, Myron Friesen says.

A John Deere tractor in a bare field in South Dakota.
Sometimes planting decisions are easy to make, and conditions are perfect. But, just like in estate planning, sometimes factors complicate things, Myron Friesen says. Photo taken on April 13, 2023 near Ideal, South Dakota.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

Our area this year has had a little bit of an interesting start to the planting season .

Around April 10 we had some amazing weather with 80-degree temperatures for four days, and the soil conditions were perfect. The crop insurance date was April 10, the ground was warm and fit, but the forecast was for cold and wet weather by the weekend.

So, what is a person to do? Do you pass on the perfect weather knowing that cold and wet weather was coming? Many farmers waited. Do you plant just a little to make sure everything is ready to go? Some farmers did this. Do you go as hard as possible until the weather forces us to stop? Only a few did this. Do you watch the neighbors and wait for them to do something and when they go, we go? That always happens somewhere.

Some years, the decision on when to plant is very easy. The window is clear and obvious, and everyone is going at the same time. Other years, like this year, the decisions are not so easy.

That’s kind of like estate planning. Sometimes the decision is very tough, with factors that may include age, health, children’s ages, the farming commitment of your children, the economics in farming, debt load, asset values, insurability, grandchildren, in-laws, and the decision-making ability of your children. Ironically, it is interesting that sometimes the same issues that make it a tough decision to make can also make it easy to make.


For example, some people decide quicker if their health is good because they want to do something while their health is good; however, some people delay their decisions because their health is good. What’s the hurry? Some people wait on decision making because of a certain in-law while others are motivated to make a decision because of the in-law.

So back to planting, I decided to plant a little. Now I wait and see if I made a good decision. I am actually a little concerned if everything will be OK, but I did discover a few problems on my planter that I can correct now. Plus, I know for sure that the corn was not going to grow in the bag. For now and for me, doing something was better than doing nothing.

The same is true for estate planning. I recall several years ago I had a “record” fast decision and implementation with a client. I met them for the first time appointment on a Thursday, and they were completely locked in and wanted to implement exactly what we were talking about. At the end of the appointment, they then told me they were leaving for Arizona the following Tuesday and were wondering if everything could be signed and done before they left. I thought that was kind of an unreasonable expectation, but I called an attorney who said he did have time the following day. We met with that attorney who then agreed to draft the documents over the weekend. The client signed everything on Monday and left on Tuesday for Arizona. The “planning window” was open, and they planned it all. Everything worked perfectly and they have not changed a thing over the last 15 years.

That also reminds me of another client who I’ve met with eight times to cover and re-cover every detail. Finally, one year later we went to an attorney, then waited six months for the documents to be drafted. Nothing is signed because something is “not quite right.” They want everything to be perfect and “plan” in perfect conditions.

Sometimes the planting window is short. Sometimes perfect conditions never happen for planting or planning.

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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