Randy McKee: Estate planning in a box
“It used to be what separated people was between have and have nots; but today, it’s more split between who is informed and who is ignorant,” said Randy McKee, of McKee Companies, at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) 62nd Annual Trade Show and Convention in Aberdeen, SD on Dec. 1, 2010.
McKee is a nationally-recognized estate planner, who developed “Estate Planner In A Box,” an easy-to-understand course designed to teach families how to put together an estate plan for an agriculture business. At the convention, he offered his advice on what farm and ranch families should think about as they prepare for the uncertainties of tomorrow.
“In December of 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to keep the estate tax levels at $3.5 million with a lifetime exemption, but the Senate hasn’t acted upon it yet,” explained McKee. “On Jan. 1, 2010, the estate tax was repealed for one year, unveiling a capital gains structure. Yet, the Senate still refuses to act. They are holding your estate hostage. What that means is if you have a $5 million estate, this could cost you over $1.5 million in estate taxes, plus all additional costs. The cash is due within nine months of the loss. Where is your $1.5 million coming from?
Many financial advisors are recommending that their clients hold tight before deciding what to do with their estates, which is a big mistake according to McKee.
“Estate planning can’t wait,” said McKee. “There are three solid ways to eliminate federal estate taxes; if you pay even one penny for your estate, it’s voluntary now. We can help you eliminate or reduce the costs for your heirs.”
McKee noted that while there are so many factors in the agriculture sector that can’t be controlled, such as prices and the weather, there is one thing producers can have control on – the future of their family business.
“Our product teaches you how to gain control,” said McKee. “You don’t want a judge determining the outcome of your operation. We can help you get on track to making those big decisions in your estate plan.”
McKee shared several stories of farming families who received unwanted publicity as brothers fought over an inheritance or siblings who tried to manipulate their mother’s will.
“It’s important to make sure the people who you want to be in control are actually in control of your estate,” added McKee. “Estate planning done right can help protect the place from lawsuits, family fights, divorce, expensive legal fees and unwanted publicity. Who makes money when there is trouble? It’s not farm families, that’s for sure. It’s the courts, who will ultimately decide the fate of your family heritage.”
McKee Companies offers two products including the “Estate Planning In A Box,” as well as a shortened version, “Family Vision Matrix.” The first is a five-DVD, seven-part set, complete with a full binder of accompanying printed articles and all the forms needed to complete an estate plan. The second is a used as a resource to get everyone’s feelings, expectations and ideas on the table. It helps begin the conversation to put a fair plan together.
“Effective family communication is the key to a successful estate planning process,” said McKee. “To determine the best way to transfer your assets to the next generation, it’s essential to identify the potential problems to your estate plan and know the steps that can be taken to avoid a family fight.”
Attendants at the convention were offered special rates of $79 for the “Family Vision Matrix” and $199 for the “Estate Planning In A Box,” with $100 commission going to SDCA for the purchase of the full version.
“I bet 80 percent of producers are poised for troublesome scenarios with their estate down the road,” admitted McKee. “It’s time to start planning now. Are you prepared?”
An example from the “Family Vision Matrix” asks all family members questions like, “How do you envision the continued operation of the ranch?” The answers are filled out privately in a questionnaire and compiled by McKee, who places them together for easy comparisons.
“This helps find differences in opinions and helps identify potential problems quickly,” he said. “It’s always surprising how candid family members will be about their expectations when there is a neutral person to help guide the conversation.”
editor’s note: for more information on estate planning, visit http://www.mckeecompanies.com.
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