We don't often like to think about the possibility of an untimely death, but it is an important consideration. What would happen to your assets? More importantly how will the live animal assets be cared for until estate plans are carried out?
When Kit and Deanna Pharo, seedstock producers in Cheyenne Wells, Col., made preparations to pass on the management of their Pharo Cattle Co., they created a "Ranch Handbook" to aid those caring for the ranch in the event something happens to one or both of them.
"What a great reference tool this has become. We probably refer to it on a weekly basis," writes Mr. Pharo in his producer newsletter (July/August 2001). "Although we find it useful now, the real purpose of this 3-ring notebook is to ensure that management succession will take place with a minimum amount of headaches or hardships once we are gone."
Because of the complexities of their business, Mr. Pharo says they update their handbook every month. However, an annual update may be enough for most ranches. Mr. Pharo suggests including the following items in your own ranch handbook:
- List of all key contact people.
- Where to find all important papers and legal documents.
- Outline of your management succession plan.
- Monthly calendars itemizing activities that need done.
- Inventory sheets for cattle, feed, equipment and land.
- List of computer programs and files most often used.
- Maps and diagrams.