It’ll come as no surprise that most families have a verbal deal about succession planning: who will take over the farm. These verbal deals go something along the lines of, “the boys get the farm, while the girls get the house in town and the super.”
But life happens; children grow up, move away, get married and perhaps end up in a business of their own that make these informal agreements obsolete. Instead, we suggest a plan that changes with the times.
So that we are on the same page, we are talking about succession planning or transition planning, as we prefer to call it. We call it this because the handover of the farm takes a long time as the older generation works with the next before handing it over entirely.
A transition plan captures who gets what and when it will happen after a process of listening to and balancing everyone’s goals, their challenges and wants, all the while keeping an open dialogue to manage conflict when it arises.
It’s a process we’ve gone through with many families as an independent and objective listener and mediator. There’s no set timeline for this process because it takes time, dependent on family circumstances. Typically, we go through the following stages to take a family through the transition/succession planning process.