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Abstract

Since the enactment of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, owners and operators of farms and ranches have opportunities to evaluate new estate planning strategies for the transfer of farm businesses to subsequent generations. However, with provisions of the Act to be phased in over several years, consideration must be given to having a "staged" estate plan. Under provisions of the current law, estate tax is repealed in the year 2010, but if Congress does not act, the legislation sunsets and returns to prior law January 1, 2011. This fact provides planning challenges for owners and operators of farms and ranches as the phase-in of provisions, the repeal in 2010, and the return to prior law relative to estate planning and business inter-generational transfer of property. This paper investigates the planning process and options available as they relate to a family-owned property in North Carolina, USA. Plans made must take into consideration the dynamics of a changing legislative environment, special-use valuation of land, opportunity cost of alternative uses for land, and off-farm heirs.

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