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Skull Sweat

I recently read about a person's estate plan with the following elements. 

  1. Remove my head from my body.
  2. Have it dipped in a substance to preserve the skull
  3. Take the remains of my body and have them carbon cooked and compressed into two blue diamonds to be inserted into the skull.
  4. Place the skull in our living room so that I can watch my descendants grow and prosper.

Setting aside whether that type of post death body sculpting is legal or moral, the plan has a flaw. It fails to account for the changing in tastes , goals and desires.  While the spouse might, and I do mean might, agree with the plan, each succeeding generation has an increasing chance of not agreeing with the plan. This could result in a garage sale find that is straight out of a grade b horror flick.

What is the connection to Ag law?  Far too many senior generation have their own version of a bejeweled skull in a non existent, incomplete, ill advised or overly complex estate plan. Many of these skulls are unintentional.  Do you have a skull in your plan? When was the last time you considered the plan. Many times, its is the "D" events in life that should trigger a review of your plan, those relying upon it, those who benefit from it, and your goals and current status. What are D Events?

  1. Death of someone in the household or operation.
  2. Disassociation that is being fired or terminated from a job, a someone no longer being a part of your operation or life or a beneficiary's disassociation that changes their potential consumption rate of their inheritance. 
  3. Divorce. Ex spouses are by law, removed from their former spouse's estate plan automatically, but not so for others who were leaving things to the former  Plus, divorces generally result in upheaval of capital and in the dust, things life insurance policies that junior has been paying on senior may no longer cash flow with our the former Mrs. Junior.
  4. Disability.  Modern medicine is keeping folks alive longer, that's great. However, some times those extra laps are not taken with full productivity. This can lead to a drain on capital assets. When the diagnosis hits, the plan needs to be reviewed to adjust to the new reality facing individuals.
  5. Da Passage of time. Okay that is  a stretch, but time does not heal all estate plans. Many estate plans still are floating around that were based on an estate tax exemption of $600,000 per person. The current amount is $11.5 million per person. Many folks who had perfectly fine circa 1986 plans have unnecessary trusts (not to mention that  those Atari playing kids have traded Air Jordan high tops for sensible footwear and don't need a restriction on their access to capital) and real estate titling schemes.

Take the time to invest in some skull sweat now and review your plan so that your beneficiaries don't have your own version of blue synthetic diamonds staring at them on the mantle.

Other Ag News of Interest

China continues to have massive swine heard reductions due to disease. While the initial impact for US Pork is a postive b/c the demand cannot be met, it remains to be seen if this latest outbreak is China's housecleaning and upgrading phase where inefficient operators using older methods such as feeding table scraps to hogs will be pushed out and in thier place, modern feeding facilities will return.

Iowa Federal court put halt "ag-gag" law

A lawsuit filed by advocacy groups claims that the law passed to punish those who lie to obtain access to animal facilities.  The claim is the law threatens animal welfare and food safety. This is Iowa’s second attempt at the law as the first one was struck down in 2012.

Animal Advocacy

Florida is considering a provision to appoint attorneys to represent animals. This would potentially allow any “concerned party” to file on behalf of the animal. While this sounds innocent enough on first blush, it is an open door to animal activism groups that seek to end livestock production as we know it.  It isn’t just livestock.
Consider the 2020 legislative proposals floating around in Florida. They include banning the declawing of cats, requiring each county to have a pet friendly emergency shelter and prohibiting the leasing of certain animals. Stewardship of animals is important and essential.

Don’t cry for me, Sandra…

Sandra, an orangutan,” who had lived at the Buenos Aires Zoo for over 20 years, in 2015 was deemed “a non-human person, subject of rights and consequent obligations towards her,’ by an Argentine court.  The court also ruled that the Buenos Aires government had to guarantee Sandra adequate conditions of her habitat and the activities necessary to preserve her cognitive abilities. It was recently moved to a Florida facility. No word on whether the foreign court’s determination will be given any weight by the US court system.

Saturday, July 13, 2024
  • Patrick B. Dillon
  • Jill Dillon
  • Tori Beyer
Dillon Law PC
Patrick B. Dillon enjoys finding solutions to legal issues and catching problems for clients. Pat practices in the Sumner office regularly represents clients in district, associate district and magistrate courts for agricultural, real estate, criminal and collection issues. He drafts wills and trusts, creates estate plans and helps clients through the probate process.
Dillon Law PC
Jill is a University of Northern Iowa undergraduate (Political Science Cum Laude) and a Drake University Law School graduate. Jill is a firm owner but not currently accepting private pay clients. Jill still has ties to her family farm operation which includes a dairy herd.
Dillon Law PC
Tori is a University of Iowa undergraduate where she double majored in Criminology, Justice, and Law and Ethics and Public Policy and a North Dakota Law School graduate. Tori practices in the Sumner office. Tori's areas of practice include but are not limited to estate planning, wills/probate, criminal defense, and civil litigation.

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