Risk and uncertainty in the economy, changes in tax policy and pressure from foreign and domestic sources buying up farms means one thing: You have to have a plan for the future. Questions are out there. There’s no crystal ball, but you’re not getting any younger and you’ve got to have some kind of exit strategy in place.
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best, but the vast majority of people who do that lose their business eventually or, at best, are unable to optimize their chances of achieving their dreams and cementing their legacy.
It’s obvious, for example, that President Barack Obama feels empowered to let the Treasury regulate top earners more strenuously. This could mean rolling back the estate tax exemption to $3.5 million per individual and raising the top tax rate to 45 percent or higher.
Politics, economics and tax regulation are changing faster and with more volatility than ever. If you have a dream and are thinking about possibilities, who better to help you secure that than people with decades of experience in helping people chart a course toward their dreams.
Step One: Have the right people on the bus. You can’t have an effective plan without having a firm that has a proven process. Find someone who listens. We know the questions that should be asked and we’re not afraid to ask them in order to put you on the right path. We accomplish this for you by having a unique depth of experience in the agriculture and food sector.
Step Two: Be honest with yourself. We start with the easy questions and then move into the questions that you can’t articulate or haven’t even thought of yet. You optimize our effectiveness for you by being open and transparent with your goals, dreams and fears.
Step Three: Recognize that your estate plan is a living document. It’s a roadmap for success but you will need to stay in close contact with your planning and tax professionals even after retirement. It’s also a comprehensive approach that takes into account all the changes we have discussed here.
With a democrat-controlled house, senate and White House, it is even more likely that adverse policy changes will affect landowners, tenant farmers and other producers without a plan. Hillary Clinton has already said she will go after high-value households. Bernie Sanders would no doubt push for higher taxes. Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be more conservative, but we haven’t seen anything substantive from them or the Donald Trump camp.
In the short term, it’s easy to say we don’t expect much to happen in an election year, but that uncertainty is, in itself, another reason to have a plan to secure your legacy.