Transitioning the farm to the next generation: fair is not equal.

Major milestones in your farming career can get your heart pumping with excitement -- starting young with driving a tractor by yourself for the first time, coming back to the farm as an adult, selling grain on your own, buying your first farm. As you near retirement age, however, the next milestone is often approached with trepidation -- planning and executing the transition of your farm to the next generation.

In a series of articles in upcoming months, DTN/Progressive Farmer wants to help you approach this signpost with knowledge and insight to avoid a family break-up and provide as smooth a transition as possible. That's a tall order, but it can be done.

First, a few definitions: Estate planning versus succession planning. Estate planning transfers assets. Succession planning transfers an operating business. Estate planning is relatively straightforward, especially if you have no on-farm heirs. It involves wills, trusts, life insurance, taxes ... information you can find at various workshops sponsored by banks, farm consultants, insurance agents, university Extension offices and online. Click here to keep reading.