Plans for the Unexpected Bring Relief

Katie Micik Dehlinger
By  Katie Micik Dehlinger , Farm Business Editor
Guy Schafer suddenly found himself on the path to farm ownership after the death of a family member. (Dave Charrlin)

I met Guy Schafer at The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers, better known as TEPAP, in January 2020. The program's participants came from completely different operations from across the country. When they talked through issues, it was clear that many of their challenges and problems were similar.

Schafer's story stood out to me. While he worked for a farm for most of his career, he never thought he'd be on a path to ownership in one. That all changed in 2019 when his brother-in-law, Nathan Purdue, died of a sudden illness at the age of 35.

Schafer's story resonated with me personally. His brother-in-law died without a will, which created added distress for the family grieving his loss. The details are not mine to share, but I will say it involved some strange outcomes from the probate court. I'm only a few years younger than Purdue, and it scared me, especially as a new mom. I left TEPAP determined to do some basic estate planning.

It took me six months to get my husband to come around. Not talking about it was giving me serious anxiety, and once I explained it from that perspective, my husband listened.

We worked with a local lawyer to put our wills, trust and power of attorney documents together. We made formal decisions about who would become our children's guardian if we both died, who would serve as our trustee and what would happen to our remains.

I know my situation is probably nothing like yours, but in these cases, I think you'd share my feelings of relief. Getting to that place is tough, especially when there are big feelings to confront on the way. But, when you get there, it's worth the work.


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