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

Intestate Succession and Agriculture (Mitchell & R. Rumley, 2020)
Differential Tax Assessment of Agricultural Lands (Bachelor & Hall, updated through Jan., 2019)
Forms and Filing Information: Business Organizations (Nat’l Agric. Res. Ctr., 2019)
Managing Legal Risk for Alternative Uses of Forestland (R. Rumley, Hatch, Walkingstick, E. Rumley, McPeake, 2012)
Agricultural Estate Planning – PowerPoint Presentation (R. Rumley)
An Overview of Special Use Valuation Under 26 U.S.C.A. § 2032A (R. Rumley, 2011)
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 (R. Rumley, 2009)
Proper Handling of Disaster Payments, Crop Insurance and Livestock Sold (McEowen, 2003)
Should Potential Long-Term Health Care Needs Be a Part of Your Farm Estate Plan? (McEowen, 2003)
An Overview of Organizational and Ownership Options Available to Agricultural Enterprises: Part 1Part 2 (Goforth, 2002)

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

Recent Changes in the Estate and Gift Tax Provisions (RS42959, Gravelle, updated through Oct., 2021)

Finance and Credit

COVID-19 and USDA Farm Loan Flexibilities (IN11415, Monke, 2020)
COVID-19-Related Loan Assistance for Agricultural Enterprises (IN11357, Dilger, Lowry & Lindsay, updated through Oct. 2021)
Federal Disaster Assistance for Agriculture (IF10565, Stubbs, updated through Sept. 2021)
U.S. Farm Income Outlook: February 2020 Forecast (R46249, Schnepf)
U.S. Farm Programs: Eligibility and Payment Limits (R46248, Schnepf & Stubbs, updated through Dec. 2020)

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

Topics: Farmland Ownership and Tenure
Topics: Farm Household Economics and Well-Being
Topics: Federal Tax Issues
Topics: Land Use, Land Value & Tenure
Economic Returns to Farming for U.S. Farm Households (Prager, Tulma & Durst 2018)
Estimated Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Farms and Farm Households (Williamson & Bawa, 2018)
Farmland Values, Land Ownership, and Returns to Farmland, 2000-2016 (Burns, et al., 2018)
Tax Policy Can Alter Farm Asset Investment Decisions (Williamson, 2017)
U.S. Farmland Ownership, Tenure, and Transfer (Bigelow, Borchers, & Hubbs, 2016)
The Potential Impact of Tax Reform on Farm Businesses and Rural Households (Williamson, Durst & Farrigan, 2013)
Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership (Nickerson, et al., 2012)
Federal Tax Policies and Low-Income Rural Households (Durst & Farrigan, 2011)
Tax-Deferred Exchanges of Farmland Provide Valuable Savings to Some Farmers (Williamson, Durst & Brady, 2011)
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (Ahearn & Newton, 2009)
Federal Estate Taxes Affecting Fewer Farmers but the Future is Uncertain (Durst, 2009)
Federal Tax Policies and Farm Households (Durst, 2009)
How Will the Phaseout of Federal Estate Taxes Affect Farmers? (Durst, Monke, & Maxwell, 2004)
Effects of Federal Tax Policy on Agriculture (Durst & Monke, 2001)
Policy Issues in Rural Development: How Would Fundamental Tax Reform Affect Farmers? (Durst & Monke, 1999)
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997: Provisions for Farmers and Rural Communities (Monke & Durst, 1998)
Partial Interests in Land: Policy Tools for Resource Use and Conservation (Wiebe, Tegene, & Kuhn, 1996)
Valuation of Partial Interests in Land  (1996)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

IRS Agricultural Tax Center
IRS Electronic Reading Room
IRS Forms and Publications to Assist Farmers
IRS Farmers’ Tax Guide (2021)
Tax Information for Businesses
Foreign Agricultural Workers
Your Appeal Rights
Treasury, IRS issue guidance to farmers on uniform capitalization rules (2020)

Other Federal Resources

A Guide for Farmers, Growers, and Crew Leaders (esto es traducido en español también) (Social Security Administration, 2021)
Estate Planning Resources (USDA, Nat. Institute of Food & Agric.) (USDA)
Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources (USDA)
Transition Incentives Program (USDA Farm Service Agency)
USDA New Farmers Taxes Page (USDA New Farmers)
United States Tax Court
USDA Fund Homepage (USDA)


Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions, Virginia Edition (Virginia Cooperative Extension, 2017).
Update on the Use of Sec. 1031 and Sec. 1033 Like Kind Exchanges in Agriculture (Rattikin, 2017)
Farm Transition Planning: Helping Clients Deal with the Expected and the Unexpected (Ferrell, Jones & Hobbs, 2016)
Evaluating Your Estate Plan: Farm Transfer Strategies (Kelvin Leibold, Iowa State Univ., Ag Decision Maker, 2014)
Farm Transitions Toolkit (MN Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, 2013)
Farmland Preservation: An Estate Planning Tool (Lynch, MD Cooperative Extension, 2013)
Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions Pennsylvania Farmlink, 2013).
Estate Planning for Farm Families (Lynch, Goeringer, & Musser, updated through Jan., 2021)
Planning the Future of Your Farm and Forest: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer   (NC Farm Transition Network )
Basic Estate Planning: Introduction (Skeeles & Cunningham, OH St. U., 2012)
Estate Planning for Forest Landowners: What Will Become of Your Timberland? (Siegel, Haney & Greene, 2009)
Federal Tax Research Guide (Georgetown U. Law Ctr., 2021)
Glossary of Estate Planning Terms (Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 2006)
Managing Debt to Prepare for Farm Transfer (Shoemaker, Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 2006)
Overview of 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges for Farmers (Shoemaker, Farmers’ Legal Action Group, 2006)
National Timber Tax
Topical Library (U. MN Nat. Ag Risk Edu. Library)

Additional Resources

Be Aware of Current Laws on Estate Taxes (Successful Farming, Shawn Williamson, April 12, 2022)
Common Strategies to Consider for Fair vs. Equal (Univ. WI-Madison, Farm Management Div.)
Your Complete Guide to Farm Successoin Planning (Farm Bureau Financial Services, August 31, 2020)
The Guide to Farmland Inheritance (Tilltable)
Farm Estate Planning — What You Need to Know (Baker, Open Advisors, Jan. 14, 2020)
Planning for the Future of Your Land (FL Land Steward, 2021)
Estate Planning Publications (MT St. U. Extension)
Law and Taxation: A Retrospective of 20 Years (Endres, Uchtmann, & Hoff, Dep’t of Agric. & Consumer Econ., U. IL farmdocDAILY, 2019)
Easements 101 (Conoly, 2018)
Highlights of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for Agricultural Producers (Tidgren, 2018)
Succession Planning for Lawyers: The Ten Commandments (Ferrell, 2018)
Estate Planning and Potential Pitfalls (Vasser-Jenkins, Talk Business & Politics, 2017)
The Ag & Food Law Update (The Nat. Agric. Law Ctr. Blog) (Search “Estate Planning,” “Taxation,” and similar terms for relevant entries)
AgTransitions (U. MN Ctr for Farm Fin. Mgmt.)
Beginning Farmer Center (IA St. U. Extension & Outreach)
Beginning Farmers: An Online Resource for Farmers, Researchers and Policy Makers
Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (IA St. U.)
Dying Without a Will in Montana Interactive Page MT St. U.)
Estate and Gift Tax: An Overview (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School)
Estate Planning (SD St. Extension, updated through Feb., 2020)
Estate Planning: An Overview (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School)
Estate Planning and Business Succession (MI St. U. Extension, Farm Planning)
Estate Planning Defined (Hendrix, U. AR Div. of Agric. Research & Extension)
Estate Planning in North Dakota (ND St. U.)
Farm Succession and Estate Planning (Agric. & Natural Resources, U. DE)
Farm Transition and Estate Planning Program (U. MD Extension)
Financial Risks: Estate Planning (U. of WY Western Risk Mgmt LIbrary)
Florida Land Steward Program (FL Land Steward, U. FL)
Getting Ready for Estate Planning (Purdue Agric.)
Illinois Farmland Leasing and Rental Forms (U. IL farmdoc, Agric. Law)
Key Concepts & Steps in Agricultural Estate Planning (College of Agric., Biotech. & Natural Resources, U. NV, Reno)
Legacy Planning for Forest Landowners (VA Cooperative Extension)
National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
International Farm Transition Network
Estate Planning Considerations for Ohio Families (Purdue Agric.)
Resources for Farm Transition Planning(VA Cooperative Extension Services)
State Statutes Dealing with Taxation (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School)
Succession & Estate Planning (Farm Mgmt., MI St. U.)
Transfer and Estate Planning(U. MN Extension)
Who Will Get Grandpa’s Farm? (Purdue Agric.)