You can't predict the future - but you can plan for the unexpected

January 05, 2021

You can't predict the future - but you can plan for the unexpected

Synopsis
3 Minute Read

While 2020 was undoubtedly an unprecedented year in many ways, having a rock-solid succession plan in place is one way to ring in the New Year the right way.

Bob Tosh
Bob Tosh, PAg, FEA
Family Business Advisor
Insight
Progress Insight Agriculture Succession TransitionSMART for Farms

In the final seconds of 2019, as you started your New Year’s Eve countdown, what expectations did you have for the year ahead? Whatever they were, they likely didn’t include a global pandemic and worldwide business disruption — and yet, here we are. Which just goes to show: you really can’t predict the future.

That’s not to say you can’t plan for it, however. While 2020 was undoubtedly an unprecedented year in many ways, there were a few things that could have made it a little easier — like having a rock-solid succession plan in place.

 

While most of us envision a succession plan as something you implement leading up to retirement, it can actually be an excellent tool to help you prepare for any situation in which the owner or lead decision-maker in your farm becomes incapacitated. That makes it a great thing to have in your back pocket as we head into 2021.

What value does a succession plan bring to the table? Let’s break it down:

It forces you to plan for worst-case scenarios.

There are countless reasons why you may have to leave your farm unexpectedly — and most of them aren’t pleasant ones. As a result, most farm owners put off planning for unexpected illness, death or injury.

If you’re one of them, it can be helpful to remember that when you plan for these types of events, you’re not necessarily doing it for yourself—you’re doing it for your loved ones. If you had to leave the farm suddenly, they would be dealing with stress, anxiety and, potentially, grief. A succession plan can help you make sure that ‘farm business confusion’ isn’t added to the list.

It clarifies everyone’s role.

Part of succession planning involves identifying each family member’s role within the company and establishing a plan to fill farm-critical positions down the road. This clear organizational succession framework also allows the farm to maintain a sense of continuity in an emergency.

If you’re forced to step away, other members down the chain of command should be able to seamlessly step in—as everyone knows what needs to get done and what responsibilities need to be fulfilled.

It gets your family inside your head.

How many people in your family know where all your bank accounts, investments and contacts are held? Could they access your personal insurance information, or your will, if they needed to? Are they aware of your liabilities?

If you’re unsure about any of the answers to these questions, a succession plan can help. It offers an opportunity to take all the important information swimming around in your head and put it in a central, easily-accessible area so your loved ones can find it.

So long, 2020

While 2020 wasn’t exactly the year any of us expected, it did teach us some valuable lessons—most notably, we have no idea what the future may hold.

In 2021, it’s quite possible something unexpected might happen again (although, likely not at the same scale as a global pandemic). This year, however, you can give yourself and your family some peace of mind by starting the succession planning process. It’s a decision you definitely won’t regret.

To learn more about how MNP can help you with your succession planning efforts, contact us.

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