Farming and ranching are both common careers in Oklahoma. In fact, it is a profession that some people literally inherit, with ranchers and farmers often passing their business to their children and grandchildren when they retire.
You may dream of keeping the land that you currently work in your family indefinitely, especially if you inherited it. The land may also have especially high sentimental value to you if you are a first-generation landowner in your family. While you want your loved ones to benefit from the land you currently own and work, you don’t want it to end up sold to a home developer.
How you address your land in your estate plan will determine what will eventually happen to the property. There are two important considerations that can have a major impact on how you address you are farmland in your estate plan.
1. You or a future owner could get divorced
The idea of your marriage ending unexpectedly may make you angry or defensive. Unfortunately, people don’t realize they may divorce until their marriage reaches the point of no return. There’s also no guarantee that all of your children will remain married forever.
Moving farm or ranch land into a trust is a means of protecting it from claims from spouses in divorce court. When the property does not belong to either spouse, it likely won’t be subject to division in an Oklahoma divorce.
2. Your children may not share your dreams
However important the farm may be to you, your children may not have the same perspective. They may not like the unpredictable revenue or long hours commonly required to make a ranch or farm profitable.
If you aren’t careful about how you structure your estate plan, your children could end up selling off the farm or ranch. They might split it into multiple parcels or otherwise take actions that undermine your intentions for the property.
If you want the family to make use of the property in a specific manner, such as to continue working the land, a trust can be crucial to ensuring your beneficiaries comply with your legacy wishes. You can offer family members the use of the land without giving them the control to sell it off.
Learning more about the issues that could put your farmland at risk can help you create an estate plan that better protects your most valuable resource.