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Working Ranch - March 2018

ynn Myers is a ready conversationalist. His wife, Marlene, claims Lynn just likes to talk. Many… okay, just about all of his friends will agree with Marlene, but they’ll also admit that conversation with Lynn Myers can be informative – especially if the topic is connected with stewardship of land and livestock. It can be entertaining too, since Lynn has a knack for telling stories stemming from his more than 40 years of ranching at the end of a dirt road. Just listening to him is fun. And when Lynn hauls out his banjo, it gets even better. For the last few years, though, Lynn has been looking for more than conversation. He’s been trying to become a better communicator. It’s not easy, even for someone that “likes to talk”. Lynn has become an advocate for communication among farm and ranch families, particularly as it pertains to estate planning and generational transition of ranch businesses. Over the last couple of years, he’s been invited to speak at producer meetings, including the most recent National Conference on Grazing Lands. Lynn typically shares from his own family’s experience, emphasizing how communication – the open and honest exchange of information, ideas and emotions – has been essential to the Myers family’s plan for passing their western Nebraska ranch to the next generation. “Most ranchers aren’t very good at this. They’re not comfortable talking about what will happen when they die, and planning for it. But there’s no way around it; everybody dies. And it’s better to choose, yourself, how things will be handled. If you don’t have a plan, ‘Uncle’ does,” says Lynn, referring to estate settlement according to *intestacy laws (*where a person dies without a will). “About half of my own parents’ estate was lost, because there wasn’t enough planning done to prevent it,” he adds. An estate plan, which directs how assets are to be divided among heirs, is only one piece of a comprehensive ranch transition plan. If the goal is for operation of a ranching business to continue after ownership of assets changes, there is need for a succession plan as well. In Lynn’s opinion, failure to implement a succession plan, including steps for transferring management responsibility, makes sustaining the business more diffi cult for the next generation. But handing over control of their businesses is diffi cult for most ranchers. Many struggle to accept the fact that they can’t continue indefi nitely and it stirs unwanted emotions. So, preparation for succession is put off until it’s too late. SMARTEST THING I EVER DID Again, Lynn can speak from personal experience, beginning in 1973, when he and his bride joined her parents’ operation. Located north of Lewellen, COURTESY CARISSA MUNN L MARCH 2018 I WORKING RANCH I 69


Working Ranch - March 2018
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