Legacy Planning Workshop

October 7, 2016
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN

FlickrCC chiotsrun A Day at the Briar Patch
Photo courtesy chiotsrun via FlickrCC

You have a vision for your woodland or cabin properties. It may be keeping the woodland or cabin in the family or maintaining a working woodland for future generations. After working with more than 200 families we have found a good starting point centers on communication with family members or others who care as much about the land as you do.

At this workshop you will explore the communication process with your family and to develop a shared family vision.  Having a shared vision for your property will help guide your decision around the legal tools used to pass the land on to the next generation. You will also have the opportunity to discuss with an attorney how you might use different estate planning tools including wills, trusts, and limited liability companies to achieve your goals.

Date, Time, and Location

October 7, 2016 from 9:30am to 4:00pm at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska, MN 55318


The registration fee is $150 per family, which covers refreshments and lunch, and all educational materials for all members of a family or successor group that are part of the decision-making process or are likely to inherit or accept transfer of the land. Attendees are encouraged to bring their entire family. Sign up soon — registration closes on September 29.


Mike Reichenbach, U of MN Associate Extension Professor, Cloquet, MN. Mike’s Extension teaching focuses on reducing the loss of working woodland land and maintaining woodland health. He obtained his undergraduate and Master’s Degrees in Forest Science from the University of Illinois.

Allison Eklund, Eklund Law, PC, Minneapolis, MN. Eklund Law, PC is a law practice in the Twin Cities focusing on clients with ranches, farms, woodlands and other land-based family businesses. As an attorney-at-large, Allison Eklund represents clients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

Rebecca Hagen Jokela, U of MN Extension Professor. Becky is a Regional Extension Educator and Professor in Family Resource Management, University of Minnesota Extension, Cloquet Regional Office, Cloquet, MN. Her degrees include a B.S. and M.S. Degree in Family and Consumer Science Education. In addition, Becky is an Accredited Financial Counselor. She also holds a Family Life Certification and teaching license in Family and Consumer Science.

For more information

Contact Mike Reichenbach, UMN Extension, 218-726-6470, reich027@umn.edu or Barb Spears, MN Forestry Association Metro Chapter, 651-328-0463, barb@twfllc.com. This workshop is hosted by the Minnesota Forestry Association Metro Chapter, the Minnesota Land Trust, and University of Minnesota Extension.


Legacy Planning: General Information


Land transfer

Many family forest owners envision their land staying in the family for generations. But does your family share your dreams for the future of your land? Do you have a plan in place to keep the land intact?

This page should help you think about transferring your land to members of your family, other individuals, land trusts, or others. Planning ahead can be the difference between keeping the land intact and your heirs being forced to break it up to pay the taxes. Content on this page is based in part on Oregon State University’s Ties to the Land curriculum.

Your vision and goals

First and foremost, you need to have a clear idea of your vision for the future of your property. Is the land a priceless heirloom that you hope will always be part of the family? Or do you see it as a valuable asset that your heirs may legitimately decide to sell? How would you feel if the land were to be subdivided and sold?

Your family

Once your vision is clear, you need to know how your potential heirs feel. Do they share that vision? Are they as tied to the land as you are? Do they know enough about land stewardship to take over? Land stewardship is not easy, and if your heirs don’t share your knowledge and commitment to the land, your vision may be less likely to succeed.

Your heirs may be unaware of your vision, or about their possible roles. They may hope and dream of future land ownership but be uncomfortable approaching you about your plans for the land. Change is hard to discuss, particularly when it involves losing loved ones and cherished assets. (Read more about how to plan a family meeting.)

But, communication is key. It’s hard to overstate the importance of clear communication about your vision and how your heirs fit into it. The earlier you start, the better: Involve grandchildren in the land. Help their parents understand how important the land is to you, and help them build the knowledge and confidence they need to manage it well.

Legal and financial issues

Once your family agrees on a shared vision, it’s time to talk to a land transfer professional. Many options exist for the permanent protection and ownership of your land. Some options are as follows (modified from the Ties to the Land workbook):

  • Sole ownership / sole proprietorship: This is the simplest arrangement, but can leave the owner vulnerable to liability. Income is reported directly on the owner’s tax return. Read more.
  • General partnership: Under a general partnership, more than one individual owns the business. Each partner is individually financially liable. Income is reported on the partners’ individual tax returns relative to the share of ownership.
  • Family Limited Liability Corporation: If the family prefers to retain all ownership rights, an LLC can confer some legal and financial protection, set mutually agreed rules for future land stewardship, clarify ownership, and establish operating and decision processes. Taxation is the same as in a general partnership.
  • Family Limited Partnership: This is a partnership made up of family members. Under an FLP, the general partners can begin sharing ownership with their heirs. Taxation is the same as in a general partnership.
  • S- and C-Corporations: These are federal and state designations that combine some elements of partnerships and some of corporations.

You can read more about forms of land ownership here. Each form of ownership has advantages and disadvantages. Each family situation is different, and different forms of ownership may be better suited to some families than others. These are complicated decisions, and professional assistance is essential.

In addition to the form of ownership, many other financial and legal tools may be available to advance your family’s vision. For instance, conservation easements ensure permanent land protection.

Recorded presentations

We offered two online presentations, or “webinars,” this winter. Recordings are linked below.

Land Transfer for Forest and Cabin Landowners: Transferring your vision and land ethic to the next generation

land transfer 131212 screencap cropRecorded December 12, 2013: See links below. You have a vision for your forest property or cabin. It may be as simple as keeping the forest or cabin in the family, or as complex as maintaining a working forest for future generations. Whatever your vision, a good starting point should center on family communication. This webinar will introduce you to ways of working with your family to begin a conversation about the family cabin or family forest. It will also focus on some simple ways of involving your family in developing a shared land ethic.

Recording and links:
Complete recording of the presentation
Slides and presenter notes
-Ties to the Land: Cautionary tales, resource list and book order (we have submitted a request to OSU to fix the order link)
-Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate: Website and book order
Your Land, Your Legacy: Free PDF or hard copy from UMass Extension

Land Transfer for Forest and Cabin Land Owners: Legal tools to keep your vision and land ethic alive

Recorded January 9, 2014: Having a shared family land ethic or vision for your property will help guide your decision around the use of the correct legal tool use to pass the land on to the next generation. Learn about legal tools in use in Minnesota from Allison Eklund, an attorney, Minnesota cabin owner and graduate of the Woodland Advisor Program.

Complete recording of the presentation
Handout version of slides (PDF)

Other sources of information