by Kelly Brakefield Moore
The holidays arrive with excitement, joy and bliss. The trees are trimmed, gifts are wrapped and the cookies are baked. Family arrives with warm hugs, well wishes and brightly wrapped gifts. You drink hot cocoa by the fire and watch the children delight in their new toys. It is the most wonderful time of the year. . . until it’s not.
It starts with the roll of the eyes when farming son Clark is allowed to skip dinner because the cows need milked or cousin Eddie makes a crack at the dinner table about how grandson Timmy gets to live in the farm house free but his son pays for his own house. Then daughter Ellen’s new husband makes a statement about how Mom and Dad must have a lot of money because of how much land and equipment they own. The holidays can quickly go from bright to BOOM. Families walk away filled with discontent and disappointment. Feelings are hurt and uncertainty brings in the New Year.
Ask yourself, what can I ask from Santa that would make my family holidays merrier?
We suggest the gift of communication. At Wright & Moore, we can’t speak for all family situations, but most family situations could be a little better if a little communication were added to the mix. Some farm families, like many families, find communication challenging. Communication can be hard, time consuming and unpredictable. For some farmers, communication may not come naturally.
What makes the best family businesses?
Farm families operate a business, and how can a business function at its best when there are communication issues? The most successful family businesses typically are able to discuss management structure and hierarchy, financial performance of the business, future budgeting and income projections, job responsibilities and expectations. Perhaps most importantly, families and family businesses need to be able to discuss the succession plan for the next generation. Many farms and family businesses have struggled because they could not or would not discuss and implement a plan for the owner’s retirement or death. Not having a succession plan can put everything that the owners have worked for and the viability of the farm business in jeopardy. Most importantly, it can put the future of the family at risk.
At Wright & Moore, we can’t solve every family’s dinner table issues, but we can help facilitate communication between farm family members, both those on the farm and off the farm. Communication does come naturally for us, and farm families are our focus. When family members communicate more effectively, we are able to develop a family strategy and plan for the future of the farm. Doing something proactive to prevent family discord makes everyone’s holidays brighter!
Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA has a rich heritage in Ohio agriculture. Since 1988, our firm has proudly assisted farmers, rural residents, and landowners from all over the state with their farm succession planning and agricultural legal needs. We would be happy to discuss your family goals and how to meet them. To learn more about Wright & Moore or schedule a meeting, call 740-990-0750 or visit OhioFarmLaw.com.