Estate Planning and Taxation



Estate planning is the development of a system to transfer the ownership of property to others in a manner that achieves the goals of the original property owner. These goals often include minimizing estate tax liability, succession of the family business or farm, equitable distribution of property among family members, donation to one or more charities, and ensuring the financial security of a surviving spouse. Agricultural estate planning can be an especially complex endeavor. The proper estate plan is unique to the facts and circumstances involved in each situation based on business goals, familial relationships, and tax considerations. While individual state laws may impact the effectiveness or availability of certain planning devices, business entities, and rules governing succession of property, the Internal Revenue Code primarily governs the major tax issues associated with estate planning. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Internal Revenue Code Estate and Gift Taxes, 26 U.S.C. §§ 2001-2704

United States Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure

Uniform Probate Code


Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Estate Tax Regulations, 26 C.F.R. pt. 20

IRS Gift Tax Regulations, 26 C.F.R. pt. 25

IRS Gift Tax Regulations, 26 C.F.R. pt. 26

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Estate Planning and Taxation

Administrative Law Decisions

Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRS)

IRS Written Determinations

IRS Actions on Decisions

IRS Advance Releases

Center Research Publications

Forms and Filing Information: Business Organizations (2019)

Managing Legal Risk for Alternative Uses of Forestland (R. Rumley, Hatch, Walkingstick, E. Rumley, McPeake)

Agricultural Estate Planning – PowerPoint Presentation (R. Rumley)

An Overview of Special Use Valuation Under 26 U.S.C.A. § 2032A (R. Rumley)

Farm Transition Planning – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2010)

Legal Risk Management: Protecting Your Farm and Family – PowerPoint Presentation (Mirus, 2009)

Agricultural Contracts and the Leasing of Land – PowerPoint Presentation (Rumley, 2009)

Proper Handling of Disaster Payments, Crop Insurance and Livestock Sold (McEowen)

Should Potential Long-Term Health Care Needs Be a Part of Your Farm Estate Plan? (McEowen)

An Overview of Organizational and Ownership Options Available to Agricultural Enterprises: Part 1Part 2 (Goforth)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Estate Planning
Finance and Credit

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Estate Planning and Taxation:

Corporate Farming (Restrictions on Corporate Farming/Family Farm Preservation)
Estate Planning/Divorce
Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis
Land Sales/Real Estate Finance, Mortgages/Foreclosures
Land Use Regulation
Organizational Forms for Agriculture (Business Law and Development)
Water Rights: Agriculturally Related

Reference Resources

Economic Research Service

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (Ahearn, 2009)
Effects of Federal Tax Policy on Agriculture
Valuation of Partial Interests in Land
Topics: Farm Household Economics and Well-Being
Topics: Federal Tax Issues
Federal Tax Policies and Farm Households (Durst, 2009)
How Will the Phaseout of Federal Estate Taxes Affect Farmers? (Durst, 2002)
How Would Fundamental Tax Reform Affect Farmers? (Durst, 1999)
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: Provisions for Farmers and Rural Communities (Monke and Durst, 1998)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

IRS Agriculture Materials

IRS Electronic Reading Room
IRS Forms and Publications to Assist Farmers
IRS Farmers’ Tax Guide
Agriculture/Farmers Small-Business/Self-Employed Resources
Foreign Agricultural Workers
Your Appeal Rights
IRS Guidance

Other Federal Resources

Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University

National Farm Transition Network

United States Tax Court

A Guide for Farmers, Growers, and Crew Leaders (Social Security Administration)

Estate Planning Resources (National Institute of Food and Agriculture)


Farm Transition Planning: Helping Clients Deal with the Expected and the Unexpected (Ferrell, Jones & Hobbs, 2016)

Update on the Use of Sec. 1031 and Sec. 1033 Like Kind Exchanges in Agriculture (Rattikin, 2017)

Farm Transitions Toolkit (MN Institute for Sustainable Agriculture)

Planning the Future of Your Farm and Forest: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions (North Carolina Farm Transition Network)

Estate Planning for Forest Landowners: What Will Become of Your Timberland? (Siegel, 2009)

Basic Estate Planning Fact Sheet Index (OH St. U., 2009)

Federal Tax Research Guide (Georgetown U. Law Center, 2009)

Glossary of Estate Planning Terms (FLAG, 2006)

Managing Debt to Prepare for Farm Transfer (FLAG, 2006)

Overview of 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges for Farmers (FLAG, 2006)

Farmland Preservation: An Estate Planning Tool (Lynch, U. MD, 2001)

National Timber Tax Website (last updated in 1993)

Financial/Estate Planning/Legal/Tax Documents (National Ag Risk Education Library, U. MN)

Additional Resources

Succession Planning for Lawyers: The Ten Commandments (Ferrell, 2018)

Highlights of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for Agricultural Producers (Tidgren, 2018)

Easements 101 (Conoly, 2018)

Ag Transitions: To Help Farmers & Ranchers Develop a Plan to Transition Their Business to the Next Generation

Beginning Farmers: An Online Resource for Farmers, Researchers and Policy Makers

Estate Planning and Taxation Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

Getting Ready for Estate Planning (Purdue)

Who Will Get Grandpa’s Farm? (Purdue)

Planning for a Secure Retirement

Estate Planning Considerations for Ohio Families (Ohio State University)

Estate Planning in North Dakota

Estate Planning and Business Succession (Michigan State University)

Financial Risks: Estate Planning (University of Wyoming)

Beginning Farmer Center (Iowa State)

Estate Planning (U. AR – Cooperative Extension Service)

South Dakota State Publications on Estate Planning

Farm Transition Planning Publications (VA Cooperative Extension Services)

Penn State University Agricultural Law and Resource Center

Dying Without a Will in Montana (MT State U.)

Estate and Gift Tax: An Overview (Legal Information Institute, Cornell – LII)

Estate Planning: An Overview (LII)

State Statutes Dealing with Taxation (LII)

Estate Planning (Florida Forestry Information, U. FL)

National Association of Financial and Estate Planning

Law and Taxation (Farmdoc)

Whole Farm Decisions: Succession (IA St. Ext. Ag Decision Maker)