Farmer power of attorney
Should you become sick or incapacitated for some reason, you may need someone designated as your power of attorney who can legally sign papers and manage your affairs. If you are already working with an attorney and developing an estate plan, you should already have these documents in place. Same goes for farming operations that are structured businesses. However, most family farms and ranches don’t have a power of attorney in place.
Dave Aiken is a water and agricultural law specialist at the University of Nebraska. He says there needs to be a clear chain of command.
"You need important business decisions made, papers signed. If you don’t have this stuff set up in advance and the papers really do need to be signed, then you’ll have to go to court and have the judge appoint a conservator to be able to take care of that legal stuff until the business owner or leader gets back on their feet and is able to resume their business responsibilities," says Aiken.
There is risk naming someone to be your power of attorney because they will have reign over finances, real estate, employees, and other aspects of the business you give them control over. Be sure to have confidence in this person.
"We would give this to Sam. When we go, Sam is going to get the farm, and so, you know we’re just going to give it to him, and we know that he’s going to do the right thing. We know he’ll try to do what we would do if we were able to, so, we’re not worried about him you know, embezzling money or anything like that," he says. "Friends or family members are often agents in these situations, particularly where it’s a family business that’s involved. That would be the common type of set up."