Christmastime is family time, but scratch the surface and many farm family situations are not nearly as happy as they appear. Succession planning can be one of the biggest sources of friction. If you want your kids to remain friends and to have all the cousins know each other, get your succession plan right. For some farms, there is no succession plan. None of the kids plans to take over. The land will eventually be rented out or sold. There might be an auction sale to dispose of the equipment. In other cases, the farm will continue to be in the family, but decisions need to be made on how it’s all going to happen. There’s often a difficult balancing act between keeping the farm viable for the next generation and providing proper retirement income for mom and dad. And there may not be a bunch of money sitting around to balance the equation with the non-farming kids. There are ways to address this. The trick is to start early and have a plan. That includes a current will. If dad dies suddenly and mom can’t carry on by herself, it may or may not be clear who will continue the farming operation. Families can tear themselves apart as grieving is mixed with feelings of entitlement. The starting point is lots of family discussion and the festive season is often when families are all together. I’m Kevin Hursh.