Guide helps transfer property to next generation

Farmers often say, “The best way to protect my land is to farm it.” This is true, but where will you and your farm be 10 or 15 years from now? Too often, family members who inherit farmland unexpectedly are left with little choice but to sell out.

Fortunately, good estate planning can help landowners achieve financial stability without cashing in on their land. Your Land is Your Legacy: A Guide to Planning for the Future of Your Farm offers practical estate planning advice for today's landowners and their financial advisors. American Farmland Trust's revised and updated guidebook illustrates strategies for transferring land to the next generation while addressing your personal financial goals.

“You can't take your farm with you when you die,” said Jeremiah Cosgrove, an attorney with American Farmland Trust who co-authored the guide. “But proactively planning for the future of your land — before you retire — gives you a stake in its outcome.”

The third edition of AFT's bestseller incorporates recent tax changes, serving as a reminder that estate planning, not estate taxes, is the critical issue for farm families. While estate tax laws change, Your Land is Your Legacy presents a general planning framework that will stay relevant for years to come. Although the guide isn't intended as a replacement for professional advice, it has been lauded as an excellent foundation for both landowners and financial planners.

“Your Land is Your Legacy is the best resource I've seen for educating rural landowners about their estate planning options,” said Lynne H. Hardey, vice president and trust officer for Comerica Bank & Trust.

“Since many rural landowners are land-rich and cash-poor, figuring out how to pass down your land to the next generation is one of the most important financial decisions you'll ever make.”

Your Land is Your Legacy guides readers through the maze of estate planning options and pitfalls using real-life examples and worksheets.

“The estate planning guide was very easy to read and will be an excellent resource for farm families as they plan for the future of their farms,” said Isabel Prescott, owner of Riverview Orchards in Rexford, N.Y.

One unique aspect of the guide is its emphasis on land conservation at a time when 1.2 million acres of farmland get consumed by development every year. Drawing on American Farmland Trust's 23-year history of “saving the land that sustains us,” the guide incorporates time-tested strategies for keeping land available for the next generation of farmers.

“Land is most vulnerable when it passes from one generation to the next,” explained co-author Julia Freedgood, director of American Farmland Trust's Technical Assistance Services.

“With millions of acres of land changing hands over the next 10 years, the power to protect our nation's agricultural resources lies with those who currently own and manage them.”

Your Land is Your Legacy can be purchased for $13.95 by calling 800-370-4879 An order form is also available on American Farmland Trust's Web site at

For information about how AFT can educate landowners about estate planning, contact Jill Schwartz at 202-331-7300, ext. 3011.

American Farmland Trust is a national nonprofit organization working with communities and individuals to protect the best land, plan for growth with agriculture in mind and keep the land healthy.

AFT provides a variety of services to landowners, land trusts, public officials, planners and agricultural agencies such as workshops on estate planning and farmland protection, Cost of Community Services studies, farmland protection program development and agricultural economic development.

AFT's national office is located in Washington, D.C. Phone number is 202-221-7300. For more information, visit

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