Succession Planning

Families planning the transfer of farms to the next generation of operators seek information and resources. The succession planning process includes considerations for financial well-being, farm management and risk assessment. It is crucially important for families to properly develop plans that address the transfer of ownership and management.


Cultivating Strong Indiana Farm Families through the Succession Planning Process by Providing Educational Opportunities and Current Resources

The Purdue Succession Planning Team, comprised of Extension Educators and Specialists, was formed in 2011 to address the needs of families planning the continuation of farm businesses. The team mission is to cultivate strong Indiana farm families through the succession planning process by providing educational opportunities and current resources.

We currently offer programming in three areas: Regional Workshops, Introduction to Succession Planning Presentation and Farm Family Visits.

Regional Workshops

The team coordinates winter workshops held regionally across Indiana (attendees may be charged a fee). These workshops cover various topic areas including:

  • Beginning succession planning steps
  • Financial skills
  • Communication strategies
  • Business structures
  • Risk management tools
  • Options for asset transfer to the next generation
  • Management transfer plans

Workshop presenters include experienced professionals (i.e., attorneys and accountants), Extension specialists and Extension Educators. Team members may also hold family meetings with the workshop attendees to help them move forward with the next steps of their succession plans. Fees charged for these workshops have been lowered due to grant funding provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center.

Introduction to Succession Planning Presentation

Team members may deliver short presentations (approximately one hour in length) at educational workshops and other venues. The presentation covers basic steps and considerations for succession planning including:

  • Estate/succession planning definitions
  • Recent research studies
  • Feasibility of adding a family member
  • Elements of a family business
  • Options for business structures
  • Human resource risks
  • Management succession

Farm Family Visits

Families seeking advice on preparing succession plans can contact team members to schedule a family meeting of approximately one hour in length. These meetings can provide assistance with the succession planning process. The team members can advise families on preparing for meetings with accountants and attorneys. Note that a mileage fee may be charged for these meetings depending on the distance traveled by team members.


Getting Started

It is often hard to know where to start when it comes to succession planning. The following documents help family businesses and farm businesses start planning for their future.

  1. Planning for Farm Succession: Step-by-Step Checklist and Action Plan for Management Succession
  2. Constructing a Succession Plan, Iowa State Extension
  3. Understanding Farm Business Transfers, Iowa State Extension
  4. Farm Transfer Strategies, Iowa State Extension
  5. Getting Started in Farming: Inheriting a Farm, Iowa State Extension

Business Arrangements

There are many options when it comes to how to structure and arrange a business. Many factors play into businesses’ structure including family, income, entities and business goals.

  1. Alternative Financial/Organizational Structure of Farm and Agribusiness Firms, North Central Region Extension
  2. Principles for Structuring Small Businesses and Farms
  3. Business Arrangements, Iowa State Extension
  4. Examining Your Farm Business Choices, Iowa State Extension
  5. Business Entities, Iowa State Extension

Estate Planning

Estate planning for a farm or family business can help ensure that assets are distributed per the wishes of the owner. Estate plans can make transfers much smoother and help maintain family relationships when such a transfer takes place.

  1. Planning for a Secure Retirement
  2. Retirement and Estate Planning
  3. Getting Ready for Estate Planning
  4. Estate Planning Goals, Iowa State Extension
  5. Trusts as an Estate Planning Tool, Iowa State Extension

Transferring Assets and Management

Transitioning from one generation to the other requires the transfer of both tangible assets, like machinery and land, as well as the transfer of skills and management. Good planning can help ensure a successful transition while managing risk.

  1. Evaluation of Farm Management Strengths and Weaknesses
  2. Developing Effective Job Descriptions for Small Businesses and Farms
  3. Transferring Business Ownership, Iowa State Extension
  4. Transferring Ownership of Farm Machinery, Iowa State Extension

Working Together

Intertwining family and business can be tricky, and if not dealt with carefully, it can lead to tension or arguments. Correct and structured planning can keep a business healthy and families working together.

  1. Who Will Get Grandpa’s Farm?
  2. Implementing Strategy: The Key Strategic Decisions for the Farm Business
  3. Planning Your Future Together, Iowa State Extension
  4. Dividing Business Income, Iowa State Extension


For general questions about the program and regional workshops or to learn more about scheduling a farm family visit, please feel free to contact any of the team members listed below.

County Name Phone Email
Specialists Renee Wiatt 765-494-9041
Specialists Michael Langemeier 765-494-9557
Specialists Maria Marshall 765-494-4268
Specialists Craig Dobbins 765-494-9041
Cass Krista Pullen 574-753-7750
Howard Paul Marcellino 765-456-2313
Huntington Ed Farris 260-358-4826
Jefferson Lonnie Mason 812-265-8919
Kosciusko Kelly Heckaman 574-372-2340
Lake Linda Curley 219-755-3240
Newton Andrew Martin 219-285-8620
Putnam Jenna Nees 765-653-8411
Spencer Nicholas Held 812-362-8066
Switzerland Kyle Weaver 812-427-3152
White Denise Schroeder 219-984-5115


Team Map