Friday, December 13, 2019
Washington State University (WSU) Regional Extension Specialist and Forestry Team Leader Andrew Perleberg has taught forestry for 20 years and has also worked on estate planning since 2007. He says that estate planning can be either important or detrimental to small tree farms, depending on how it is utilized. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Forests and Fish Law, and with it comes more conversations on how to preserve forestland owned by individuals rather than larger companies.
Many times owners of these small tree farms had to sell timber or forestland to pay back property or estate taxes. Both of these issues could have been resolved if "they had just organized their assets better," but the subject is rarely broached. Oregon State University (OSU) Assistant Forestry Professor of Practice Tammy Cushing commented that though it has become less of a problem due to a higher federal exclusion amount, that has also “lulled people into not worrying about it.”
Perleberg says there are also misconceptions about how to preserve the forestland. Subdividing the parcels into equal shares may seem fair, but “fair is not equal, and vice versa. It’s about understanding what you want as a family in the future, … or helping your grown kids understand why you own the land. Beyond that, it’s about why you think they should own the land.”
See TJ Martinell, Preserving Small Forestland Through Estate Planning, The Lens, December 11, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.