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Agricultural Law News

December 28, 2021

In this issue:



   Dirty Hands Holding House - Estate Planning   

Your Initial Estate Planning Meeting: What to Keep in Mind

Foster Swift Ag Law Team

Is it time for your first meeting with an estate planning attorney? We fully understand that the initial meeting with an estate planning attorney can be a stressful event.

However, we have found that our clients often feel more comfortable if they know what to think about before the meeting begins and what items they should bring with them to the initial meeting.

In fact, most estate planning attorneys prefer to have as much of the information listed below before the initial meeting. This gives the attorney time to tailor that first meeting to the client’s specific needs. To best prepare, clients should think about their estate planning goals generally and gather relevant information and documents to assist the attorney in implementing an estate plan that accomplishes those goals...

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   Horse Trailer on Road   

Plan Ahead When Lending or Borrowing a Horse Trailer

Julie I. Fershtman

When Sam was about to leave for a weekend horse show, he discovered that his horse trailer had a broken tail light. Realizing that the problem could not be repaired in time, he asked his neighbor, Jo, to borrow her trailer. She agreed. Within minutes, Sam hitched his truck to Jo’s trailer, unaware that her trailer’s tongue ball socket and his truck’s hitch ball were not compatible – Jo‘s trailer required a hitch with a wider ball. Later, while Bill drove down the highway, the trailer broke away from his truck, injuring his horses, breaking a fence, injuring motorists, and destroying Ann’s trailer.

Lending your trailer may seem to be a simple and friendly accommodation, but accidents can occur and the risk of liability is always present. Insurance issues add to the complexity. Never assume that everyone’s insurance policies protect them against the worst case scenario...

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   Vet Giving Horse a Vaccine   

Legal Ramifications of Providing Veterinary Advice Online

Horse Illustrated

What happens when people give veterinary or legal advice online – but they’re not even veterinarians or lawyers? In the horse industry, this is a surprisingly common occurrence.

Learn more by reading a new Horse Illustrated article on the subject, quoting our own Julie Fershtman.

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Join us at the Great Lakes Crop Summit

January 26-27, 2022

Online registration is currently open for the 2022 Great Lakes Crop Summit.

Visit with members of our firm at Booth #9. The Summit allows attendees a chance to:

  • Learn about current farm policies, markets, future trends and more.
  • Listen to a number of well-respected and recognized speakers.
  • Visit the trade show and learn about the newest technologies, products and services
  • Network with farmers, agribusinesses and agricultural experts from across the Midwest

For a full list of topics presented at this year's summit, download the full agenda here.

Where: Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort
6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858

When: January 26-27, 2022




Take Root Farm Succession and Estate Planning Conference

February 18, 2022 | Grand Rapids

Worried about passing your farm on to the next generation? Trying to figure out what possible tax law changes will mean to you? Need a refresher on all of the steps to complete for your estate plan?

Farmers and agribusinesses throughout Michigan are invited to attend the Take Root Farm Succession and Estate Planning Conference on February 18, 2022 in Grand Rapids.

Cosponsored by Farm Bureau, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Michigan Pork Producers Association, and several other ag organizations, the 2022 Take Root Conference will provide attendees with solid footing in all aspects of farm succession planning.

Among the presenters at the conference will be Foster Swift agribusiness and estate planning attorneys Todd Hoppe and Mike Zahrt:

  • Hoppe's topic will be on Large Farms and Multiple Operations—How do we structure our growing business? 
    • Now you have multiple operations, generations of family members, and numerous farm employees. You have farm managers. You have grain elevators, livestock, trucking, real estate and cropping, all run independently. You do contract work for other farms and agribusinesses. What structure should you be moving to? Should you do it all at once or in stages? What are other companies doing?
  • Zahrt's topic will be on Estate Planning Essentials for Agriculture
    • This session will provide a basic summary of estate planning documents and considerations farmers should evaluate to maximize and preserve wealth during lifetime; transfer wealth at death to intended recipients; minimize estate administration expenses; reduce or defer taxes; property ownership; and avoid conflict among family members.

For more information or to reserve a spot, contact April Cantrell with Michigan Farm Bureau.




Foster Swift to Participate in Mansfield Rule Program Focused on Diversity in Leadership

Foster Swift will be one of 70-plus law firms participating in the Midsize Mansfield Rule Certification program.

This program was established by the Diversity Lab (an incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in the law) with the goal to boost the representation of historically underrepresented lawyers in law firm leadership by broadening the pool of candidates considered for these positions.

The Mansfield Rule Certification measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30 percent women, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ lawyers and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions...

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Grand Rapids






St Joseph


Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC E-Newsletters are intended for general information for our clients and friends. This newsletter highlights specific areas of law and is not legal advice. The reader should consult an attorney to determine how this information applies to any specific situation.

IRS Circular 230 Notice: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

Copyright © 2023 Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC.

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