Though farmers may not identify themselves as wealthy or recognize that they have substantial assets, the fact is that many do. Those individuals who stand to inherit a large amount of property or already own a considerable amount often seek out prenuptial agreements to protect their assets. The reason is that these people want to avoid the pitfalls of high-asset divorces which often face a complicated process of property division that can be both timely and costly. Unfortunately, many farmers don’t take similar steps to protect their sometimes-substantial assets, not realizing that they too are sitting on a sizable amount of money, often in the form of land and farm equipment.
In most divorces in South Carolina, the division of assets affects homes and cars, retirement accounts and the occasional item of sentimental value. But in the case of a divorce between farming couples, there are often significantly more items to be divided, some of which are integral to the way of life of the family. First and foremost, there is the land.
In many cases where a family farms for a living, the ability to farm the land has been passed down from generation to generation. The couple facing the divorce likely wants to keep the land to pass down to their descendants in the hope that family farming can continue. Land is critical and unfortunately is a prime target in a divorce. Substantial plots of land can be sold off to help give one spouse their fair share of the family’s assets.
Other assets included in a farming family’s divorce are equipment and animals, along with the home and any barns or other storage facilities on the property. Vehicles used by the family to farm may also be divided, forcing the person who retains the farm to purchase new equipment to continue their operations and maintain his or her previous standard of living.
You shouldn’t have to worry about your ability to pass down your farming legacy to your children and your children’s children. Taking steps early on, either with a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, can help minimize the risk to your family’s farm.
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