With land values rising in many parts of western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming and western North Dakota, longtime ranchers and farmers can find themselves in an all-too-familiar situation when they decide to retire. They are asset rich, but when it comes to cash — well, not quite so rich. Sometimes ranchers have to sell their land, lease their land or mortgage their land just to retire comfortably.
Rex Vigoren, a partner and estate planner with Ketel Thorstenson LLP, puts it bluntly: “You can’t eat dirt.”
Other landowners, especially in the oil-rich Williston Basin, face a much different challenge: oil and gas royalties are bringing in plenty of cash — but they need a way to best manage that money in the long term. That revenue stream might not last forever, Vigoren said.
In either case, a well-developed estate plan is vital, Vigoren said. Because of the complexities of financial planning, legal considerations, tax planning and succession planning, he recommends a team approach. Vigoren is based in Spearfish. KTLLP also has offices in Rapid City, Custer and Williston, N.D. The company has the geographic reach and the estate-planning expertise to put together and coordinate the right team of experts to assess each client’s particular needs and put together a solid estate plan.
Often, someone will have an attorney, a tax accountant and an investment advisor, but the experts are not communicating with each other. As a team, he said, “they can each do what they do best.”
Estate planning can be a tough, emotional subject for some people. “Nobody wants to deal with their own mortality,” he said. Sometimes, there are longstanding family dynamics that the client is reluctant to confront. But with a team of coordinated experts and a well-conceived estate plan, many of those issues can be dealt with professionally and effectively.