Speaking from Experience

Panel gives insights into succession-planning solutions that worked for their operations.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 4, 2014) — “It depends” is a common answer when asking questions about estate planning. However, there are some ideas that can help decipher the cryptic advice. A panel of estate-planning veterans and advisors consisting of Paul Neiffer, agribusiness certified public accountant at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP; Joe Mayer of Mayer Ranch, Guymon, Okla.; and Don Schiefelbein of Schiefelbein Farms, Kimball, Minn., was moderated by Dave Specht, certified financial planner and owner of Advising Generations LLC.

Panel with Paul Neiffer, Joe Mayer and Don Schiefelbein

Panel with Paul Neiffer, Joe Mayer and Don Schiefelbein.

The panel concluded the business block of workshops at the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show Nov. 4 in Kansas City, Mo.

Starting is a hard aspect of the transition, but all panelists agreed that starting sooner is better than later. Without forward planning, a rancher might have to make out a large check to the IRS, explained Mayer. “We couldn’t afford to get into that situation.”

Schiefelbein emphasized that it is not someone else’s responsibility to get the process started. A health scare caused him to start the process with his family, and he recommended starting the process because you never know what will happen.

How do you start? The panelists agreed that it is necessary to decide what you want out of your estate plan before you begin compiling your team of professionals to execute it. Figure out the ultimate goal of your estate plan, whether it is to minimize tax risk or to transfer the ranch into the shared ownership of siblings. Once the ultimate goal is established, Neiffer explained, then your estate lawyers and accountants can help figure out the best path to that goal.

When a family’s No. 1 reason for estate planning is to eliminate taxes, the ranch usually sells fairly soon, Neiffer shared of his experience. “However, when the No. 1 reason is to continue the ranch for the family, those stick around and we can help them on a tax plan. We need you to lead off with what you want.”

He added that while most starting an estate plan have a Type A personality and want to get things done quickly and efficiently, so are most of the advisors. With that many leader-type personalities, it is important to have a team lead and open communication between all team members.

Mayer added that it is common for ranchers to be secretive of what they own because they don’t want the county tax assessor to find out, but without collaboration from everyone on the team, it can be a disaster.

The panel spoke during the Business Workshop Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4. For more information about the Angus Means Business National Convention & Trade Show, visit www.angusconvention.com.


Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Photos are available upon request.

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit www.angus.org.