Succession Planning

Families planning the transfer of farms to the next generation of operators seek information and resources. The succession planning process includes considerations for financial well-being, farm management, and risk assessment. It is crucially important for families to properly develop plans that address the transfer of ownership and management. 

Cultivating Strong Indiana Farm Families through the Succession Planning Process by Providing Educational Opportunities and Current Resources

The Purdue Succession Planning Team, comprised of Extension Educators and Specialists, was formed in 2011 to address the needs of families planning the continuation of farm businesses. The team mission is to cultivate strong Indiana farm families through the succession planning process by providing educational opportunities and current resources. 

We currently offer programming in three areas: Regional Workshops, Introduction to Succession Planning Presentation and Farm Family Visits. 

Regional Workshops 

The team coordinates winter workshops held regionally across Indiana (attendees may be charged a fee). These workshops cover various topic areas including: 

  • Beginning succession planning steps
  • Financial skills
  • Communication strategies
  • Business structures
  • Risk management tools
  • Options for asset transfer to the next generation
  • Management transfer plans

Workshop presenters include experienced professionals (i.e., attorneys and accountants), Extension specialists and Extension Educators. Team members may also hold family meetings with the workshop attendees to help them move forward with the next steps of their succession plans. Fees charged for these workshops have been lowered due to grant funding provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center.  

Introduction to Succession Planning Presentation 

Team members may deliver short presentations (approximately one hour in length) at educational workshops and other venues. The presentation covers basic steps and considerations for succession planning including: 

  • Estate/succession planning definitions
  • Recent research studies
  • Feasibility of adding a family member
  • Elements of a family business
  • Options for business structures
  • Human resource risks
  • Management succession

Farm Family Visits 

Families seeking advice on preparing succession plans can contact team members to schedule a family meeting of approximately one hour in length. These meetings can provide assistance with the succession planning process. The team members can advise families on preparing for meetings with accountants and attorneys. Note that a mileage fee may be charged for these meetings depending on the distance traveled by team members. 

For general questions about the program and regional workshops or to learn more about scheduling a farm family visit, please feel free to contact any of the team members listed below.

Renee Wiatt



Getting Started

It is often hard to know where to start when it comes to succession planning. The following documents help family businesses and farm businesses start planning for their future.

  1. Planning for Farm Succession: Step-by-Step Checklist and Action Plan for Management Succession
  2. Constructing a Succession Plan, Iowa State Extension
  3. Understanding Farm Business Transfers, Iowa State Extension
  4. Farm Transfer Strategies, Iowa State Extension
  5. Getting Started in Farming: Inheriting a Farm, Iowa State Extension

Business Arrangements

There are many options when it comes to how to structure and arrange a business. Many factors play into businesses’ structure including family, income, entities, and business goals.

  1. Alternative Financial/Organizational Structure of Farm and Agribusiness Firms, North Central Region Extension
  2. Principles for Structuring Small Businesses and Farms
  3. Business Arrangements, Iowa State Extension
  4. Examining Your Farm Business Choices, Iowa State Extension
  5. Business Entities, Iowa State Extension

Estate Planning

Estate planning for a farm or family business can help ensure that assets are distributed per the wishes of the owner. Estate plans can make transfers much smoother and help maintain family relationships when such a transfer takes place.

  1. Planning for a Secure Retirement
  2. Understanding Your Estate in Indiana
  3. Getting Ready for Estate Planning
  4. Estate Planning Goals, Iowa State Extension
  5. Trusts as an Estate Planning Tool, Iowa State Extension

Transferring Assets and Management

Transitioning from one generation to the other requires the transfer of both tangible assets, like machinery and land, as well as the transfer of skills and management. Good planning can help ensure a successful transition while managing risk.

  1. Evaluation of Farm Management Strengths and Weaknesses
  2. Developing Effective Job Descriptions for Small Businesses and Farms
  3. Transferring Business Ownership, Iowa State Extension
  4. Transferring Ownership of Farm Machinery, Iowa State Extension

Working Together

Intertwining family and business can be tricky, and if not dealt with carefully, it can lead to tension or arguments. Correct and structured planning can keep a business healthy and families working together.

  1. Implementing Strategy: The Key Strategic Decisions for the Farm Business
  2. Planning Your Future Together, Iowa State Extension 
  3. Dividing Business Income, Iowa State Extension 

Farm Succession/Transition Planning Series 

The Purdue Succession Planning Team in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Ag have recorded a series of podcasts related to succession planning. This series will cover multiple facets of succession, covering topics from the feasibility of adding a family employee to conflict management for transition planning. 

Access podcasts

Visit Purdue Institute for Family Business to find more topics on: 

  • Estate and Personal Financial Planning
  • Strategic Business Planning
  • Maintaining Family Bonds
  • Leadership and Succession Planning

The Farm’s Legacy – A Guidebook for Intra-Family Succession 

The Farm’s Legacy: A Guidebook for Intra-Family Succession is a publication authored by the Purdue Succession Planning Team. This guidebook is a culmination of years of firsthand knowledge and expertise with farm families and the intricate inter-workings of the succession planning process. Within this guidebook, you will find articles and exercises to guide you and your family farm through the succession process. At the core of succession is communication. Of course, other components are critical to succession as well. This guidebook covers the topics of: 1) Setting Goals for the Business, 2) Communication, 3) Financial Feasibility, 4) Protecting the Business & Mitigating Risk, 5) Management Transfer, and 6) Estate Planning & Ownership (Asset) Transfer. Our workbook is meant to educate, as well as spark conversations that may otherwise be difficult to start.

Learn more

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