Planning farm property transfers within families in Iowa

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O'Byrne, John
Timmons, John
Hines, N. William
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Extension and Experiment Station Publications

One of every two Iowa farm owners has received family assistance in acquiring ownership of their farm resources. These intrafamily farm transfers appear to be increasing throughout the state. This trend is in keeping with farm transfer experiences in older parts of this country as well as in the western European countries from which our farm property system evolved.

Sooner or later all farm-owning parents and their children must face the problems of transferring the home farm within the family. These problems arise out of the inevitable processes of life and death and the continuity of rights in farm property. Because of the inevitability of death, farm-owning parents and their children are faced with the problem of bridging the gap between generations in providing for the transfer of farm property within the family.

Fortunately, an increasing number of farm families are becoming concerned with intrafamily farm transfer problems and are searching for satisfactory ways of planning for the transfer of their farm property. There are several reasons for this increased interest. First, more Iowa farmers than ever before own their farms. Around 62 percent of Iowa's farmers own part or all of the land they operate. Second, Iowa farm owners have larger equities in their farms than ever before. Farm owners' equities in their land are around 89 percent of the value of their land and buildings. Third, more farm estates are being subjected to higher estate, gift and inheritance taxes, primarily as a result of increased farm values. Fourth, progressive income taxes encourage farm owners to consider the tax-saving possibilities of distributing their property within their families. Fifth, today's parents are interested in avoiding some of the errors made by their parents in transferring farm property within their family. Sixth, children are anxious to obtain reasonable assurance of what to expect in the way of family ’ financial resources in planning for their future in farming.