Recently four members of our ranch team attended a Ranching for Profit school. I highly recommend the school, but that is not what I want to talk about. Please hear my heart on something that struck home with me about the current situation many ranches find themselves in…..
Our ranches are a part of us. For the person(s) who has poured their life into developing, struggling, managing, fighting for, and holding together the ranch, it is very difficult to let it go. In every direction we turn we can see a family operation where young people want to come on board with exciting new ideas and theories and at the same time the older generation(s) is holding tightly to what they have always done and everything that they have built. In many cases, there is a middle generation in there that never got its chance at fully managing the family operation.
For the most part, we have all had our turn at the youthful stage. If we honestly look back, we can remember being excited and full of energy. For some, their parents willingly and openly handed over the reins of the operation. For many, the family generations work through the decades under the leadership of Dad. While the scenarios vary, everyone can write their own story – good or bad.
The fact is that there are many families full of hurt and anger and fear of the future. As in any family or relationship, there are some very difficult things to tackle. We have all been through the youthful stage. If you are in it now, please think about your most prized possession. How do you feel about letting someone else use it – what about just letting them have it? Not really what you want to do is it? That is how the older members of your family are probably feeling about handing over a large successful business!
Let’s take a look at the other end of life and business. Think how proud you feel when you do, build, or develop something well. It is a good feeling! You are proud of yourself. Is it easy to just hand over that business? No. Is it necessary? In ranching it is. Failure to plan can result in the absolute dissolution of the ranch you have built. Inheritance taxes and dynamics are huge and ever-changing and good accountants and lawyers are necessary to assist you in doing it well. If one really has built a successful empire, I do not understand why that person wouldn’t care enough to do everything possible to ensure it continues after passing from this life (remember you may be stubborn, but you too will die). Do you care enough about the animals to ensure that they are fed and cared for after you die? Do you care enough about the ranch to keep all the land as one unit to ensure that it will continue as a business? Most importantly in my mind: do you care enough about your family to keep the stress as low as possible in the transition of keeping a ranch running without you there? Do you care enough about your family to ease the wrinkles and reduce to as low a level as possible the hurtful family dynamics that can result from too little or no estate planning? If you are as good a manager as businessman, you have mentored and trained the generations behind you. They are well equipped to carry on the legacy you have created.
As Sir Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Be sure you give life to your ranch and your family by planning for a smooth transition. That is truly loving your ranch and your family.
“The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his!”Psalm 24:1 (Living Bible)
As a Christian, I believe that everything is the Lord’s and so we are to go through life with our hands open so-to-speak; letting the Lord guide us. Regarding our family ranching operation, we are very thankful for parents who have used the counsel of estate planners and a good accountant to prepare for the future. They have also remained diligent in addressing additional aspects that arise with changes on the political front. We are so thankful to them for entrusting the ranch to us and consider it one of their greatest gifts to their family. We truly want to honor the family legacy for decades to come.
Written by Tana Canen 2/6/2022
“What is required of stewards is that they be found faithful.”1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)