Want to keep the farm in the family? Expert says have a plan

Want to keep the farm in the family? Expert says have a plan

(WAFF) - Estate attorney C. Blake West is encouraging Tennessee Valley farm families to have a plan for the unexpected.

He's been holding seminars in Huntsville and Cullman to educate locals on their options to prepare the death of the landowner in the family. He said it could result in the land being divided up among heirs, against the family's wishes.

"If one child wants to farm, that child may only end up with 30 acres, and the others get sold. Well now, you can't commercially farm 30 acres," he said.

West said getting affairs in order could protect the land from lawsuits, by separating the farm from the commercial farming.

"If you have a business, if you treat it like a business, separate from you, then the business is the one that gets sued and the business is the one that's liable. So now the farmland is still protected," he said.

Ashley Dawes is a real estate agent in Hartselle, and her sister's family owns 50 acres farmland in Cullman. She said she learned to drive a tractor on the farm and wants to keep in the family for generations to come.

Dawes brought her sister and their mother to one of West's seminars in Huntsville on Monday. They're now working with him to ensure the farm stays intact and in the family.

"It's good to know when I have children. They'll be able to come here and do the same thing," she said.

West said there's no "one size fits all" solution to protecting a farm, but the worst thing to do is nothing.

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