Estate planning and figuring out how to transition farm and ranchland to the next generation is probably one of the most challenging decisions a farm family has to make. However, if landowners don’t make those decisions, that conversation becomes a whole lot harder once they’re gone.

Montana has some excellent resources for estate and transition planning. Marsha Goetting at MSU Extension focuses on estate planning, personal and family finance, credit management, and retirement planning. Watch for one of Marsha’s great talks or get in touch with her at Another resource is the Montana Office of Gift Planning, a project of the Montana Community Foundation. Staff there are available to assist with estate planning when there is an interest in philanthropy and donating some of your family’s savings to charity.

Finally, there are a lot of national resources on estate and transition planning. Here are a few that rise to the top:

Agricultural Land Transitions

AgTransitions helps farmers & ranchers develop a plan to transition their business to the next generation. Everyone can use AgTransitions for free. Develop your own transition plan and learn what you need to include in your plan with tips & resources. There are also sample transition plans for ideas.

Dairy Operations: The Next Generation

Transitioning a dairy operation to a new owner or family member can be challenging and stressful. Don’t wait to plan your estate! Find out how to begin planning now to help ease the transition process.

Transfer Strategies for Beginning and Retiring Farmers

For six examples of successful, real-life land transfers that utilize a variety of tools, check out this great resource developed by the Center for Rural Affairs.