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Family farms look to estate planning to preserve tradition

Farming has a long tradition in Michigan, even though the number of farms and the amount of acreage devoted to farming has decreased steadily over the last century. Still, for many Michigan residents, it is a way of life.

However, farmers over 65 are facing difficult decisions these days. They worry about what will become of the businesses that they have spent their lives building after they are gone.

For one 90-year-old farmer, over the years he opted to sell some of his land off for development. According to him, the land often becomes more valuable as residential housing than as farmland. Adding attractions for families and hosting school field trips has added entertainment for the community and additional income to his business. Like many of Michigan's farmers, he wants to keep the farm in the family.

Making decisions about the future of any business can be challenging. When someone has spent a lifetime building up a business, estate planning becomes essential to make sure that things are handled properly after the business owner has passed on.

Many legal instruments can be used to protect the property and assets of an estate. A good understanding of the tax implications of your estate plan can make all the difference when passing on property and other holdings.

Whether you own a farm or any other type of business, proper estate planning can help you make sure that your wishes are carried out after you are gone. Consulting with an attorney who is experienced in estate planning can provide valuable information about various legal options to help you make an informed decision about the future distribution of your estate.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Even at 90, Michigan apple farmer not ready to retire," Frank Witsil, July 8, 2013

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