Creating a Succession Plan That Works

Focus on four areas to help secure your farm’s future.

Keeping your farm going day to day may leave little time to consider big-picture issues. Major decisions — such as choosing the person you’ll turn the operation over to when your farming days are done — are sometimes placed on indefinite hold. Of course, this particular decision can be a difficult and sensitive one, which may explain why 73% of farmers (including nearly half of farmers over 80!) have yet to name a successor, according to an Iowa State University study: “Iowa Farmers Business and Transfer Plans.”[1]

Whatever your age, having a clear succession plan in place can help make the transition process smoother and less complex, plus ease concerns as you approach retirement. Focusing on these four areas can help you set a smart succession plan in motion:

Your team of advisors

It’s important (and comforting) to realize that you don’t have to go it alone. A team of experts — including your attorney, accountant, insurance advisor, investment advisor and agricultural banker — can help you plan ahead for a smooth transfer and ensure you don’t overlook key steps. One of these experts can act as lead, organizing meetings and ensuring the team shares relevant information. A financial appraiser also can play a key role, giving you a clear picture of your farm’s value (see For What It’s Worth).

Your pool of candidates

As you think about potential successors, you’ll obviously want to groom someone who has the same interest in, and passion for, farming as you do. But this person also will need other skills, such as the ability to manage people and make business decisions. Don’t overlook the number of people it takes to run your operation. If you and a spouse, sibling, or other family member or business partner have put all of your combined time into the farm, designate a comparable number of successors.[2]

Your plan for sharing the decision

Once you’ve settled on a successor or team of successors, make sure that all of your family members, longtime employees and other key stakeholders are aware of your intentions. This will leave you plenty of time to train new leaders for their roles and help prevent any unpleasant surprises for those who might have expected a more senior position.

Your retirement income

Whatever your succession plans, factor in future sources of income. Beyond anticipated Social Security payments, you may be counting on the farm to provide retirement income. If so, consider how much money you can reasonably expect without impairing the farm’s ability to operate and prosper under its new manager.[3]

For additional information, please see the PNC paper Succession Planning on the Family Farm.

Bank How and When You Want To

Learn how PNC is Always Open For Business — providing solutions that enable you and your business to bank on your terms.

Watch Videos »


Latest Agriculture Insights Issue

View Current Articles »

Want helpful articles like this sent automatically to your inbox periodically throughout the year? Subscribe to Agriculture Insights »


More for Agriculture Professionals 

Contact Us »

pnc.com/agriculture »

Why choose PNC? »


Start Your Cash Flow Conversation
Give us a call at 1-855-PNC-CFO5 (1-855-762-2365) or fill out our simple form and a PNC Business Banking representative will get in touch with you.
Request a Contact »

Associated Products & Services

Get an introductory 0% APR

The PNC points® Visa® Business Credit Card — 0% APR for the first 9 billing cycles following account opening and 5 points for every $1 in qualifying purchases.

Learn More »

Business Banking in Less Time

PNC.com is your business connection to anytime online banking and bill payment, self-service account management, payroll services, even tax payments.

Learn More »

Accept Credit and Debit Cards from your Smartphone or Tablet

Clover Go makes it easy to take your business to your customers.

Learn More »

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

1. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/bfc/files/page/files/IA%20Farm%20Business%20survey%20results.pdf

2. ibid.

3. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/farm_transition_and_succession_what_is_involved

The article(s) you are reading were prepared for general information purposes by Manifest, LLC. These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions. These articles may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products, or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed, and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.