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Farm transfer from one generation to the next is a lengthy and sensitive endeavor in the best of circumstances. Too often, tales of losing the operation, or permanent family rifts, are the result. Ranching families share their lessons learned in transferring operations within the family.
The Crofts have ranched in Fremont County since the 1860s, and own a relatively small amount of acreage, which is supplemented with leased land. They run a cow-calf and yearling operation in Lander, and have sold their Angus and Hereford-bred cattle private treaty to the same man almost exclusively for two decades.
“My advice would be that you can’t do an estate transfer without an accountant, and you need a lawyer to guide you through the process. One thing to tell mom and dad is to think outside the box, because fair isn’t always equal, and equal isn’t always fair,” Croft says.
“Buy some life insurance, then you don’t have to take that money out when your kids are trying to run the ranch. I think it’s part of the parents’ responsibility to add income through diversification, so the children can come back and you and them aren’t both strapped financially,” he says.