The old phrase “Blood is thicker than water” usually plays a role in a family business – and I bet yours is no different. A tendency exists to sometimes pay closer attention to the needs and wants of direct family members versus those that are unrelated or related only through marriage (i.e. in-laws) when it comes to thinking about succession planning. BIG MISTAKE!
"Cast a bigger net and engage the in-laws EARLY in the process.
It will pay mucho dividends”.
For example, a family member not involved in the business may have the goal of owning land outright if and when the time comes to inherit the land as opposed to keeping in the business for productive use. Let’s assume that they do not want to guarantee that the farm will have continued access to that land. Their goals could be harmful to the overall success of your succession plan, especially if one of the central goals is to keep the farm business viable in the future which may require access to this land.
On the flip-side, an off-farm sibling might have no desire to own a piece of the farm and only wants to have certain family heirlooms as part of any inheritance as a memory of their upbringing. If they’re not involved in the discussion at some level, the long-term plans of the business and the goals of the succession plan might assume otherwise – to a great disappointment to the off-farm sibling.
So -- it is very important to involve these individuals in the discussions, but certainly without any guarantees that their every wish be fulfilled. Good luck!