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Mancos Library to host farm legacy workshop

Agriculture economist will teach on inheritance law

The Mancos Public Library will sponsor a workshop on Nov. 4 to teach farmers how to leave a successful business to the next generation.

Jeffrey Tranel, an agricultural and business management economist with the Colorado State University extension in Pueblo, will conduct a workshop on “Leaving a Lasting Legacy” for farmers and ranchers who want to learn more about how to leave an inheritance to their business heirs.

In addition to tips on how to navigate inheritance law, Tranel will also speak about the importance of communication between family members and preserving family history.

The workshop will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and is free to the public, although participants will be encouraged to buy a $10 workbook to follow along.

Tranel has spent about 30 years teaching and counseling farmers about “legacy planning,” according to a news release he wrote for the event. He said he prefers the term “legacy” to “inheritance” because many people associate leaving an inheritance with death, and are hesitant to talk about it. A legacy, on the other hand, “captures all facets of an individual’s life – including family traditions, history, sharing stories, values and wishes,” he wrote.

He said the workshop will focus on helping farmers decide what they want to leave behind, including their “values and life lessons” as well as land and physical heirlooms, and to whom.

The U.S. agricultural population is aging, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which reported the average age of an American farmer in 2012 was 58.3, a number that has steadily risen since 1982. But Tranel said it can be especially difficult to entice younger people to take over farm businesses in a remote region like Mancos.

“Every geographic area will have pros and cons when it comes to legacy planning,” he said. “If the area is highly isolated, the next generation may not want to come back ... not if there are other job opportunities available.”

But Tranel said the most common obstacle to leaving behind a successful estate comes from a lack of communication. He said he’s encountered many problems with inheritance planning that resulted from landowners failing to sign the right legal documents, or simply allowing the awkwardness of the topic to keep them from discussing their wishes with their heirs. Communication is a major focus in all Tranel’s workshops, he said.

Tranel has given speeches and workshops on legacy planning all over the country, he said, but he’s never visited Mancos. Shari Dunn, manager of development and programming for the library, said the staff was “blessed” to host a workshop “conducted by a stellar CSU Extension economist.”

Dunn asked participants in the workshop to register in advance so library staff can plan for the right number of people.

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