By Abigail Maurer
Angela Gloy begins the first day of her upper-level estate planning course at Purdue University with Ben Franklin's famous adage: "The only things certain in life are death and taxes."
Gloy explains that while death and taxes are life's only certainties, much uncertainty arises when the two intersect. And from her perspective, that uncertainty is the reason behind her job.
Gloy works with farm families around Indiana on farm succession planning issues. Her estate planning expertise and passion for farm families fuels her work as a farm business planning specialist at Purdue University.
Originally from the east coast, Gloy attended Gettysburg College and earned a degree in history. Following graduation, she taught middle-school, but knew she wanted to return to school and begin graduate work in economics. Friends encouraged her to consider agricultural economics because of the degree's versatility. Gloy then completed her master's degree at Texas A&M in 2000 and her doctorate at Purdue in 2004. After completing her graduate work, Gloy moved to Ithaca, New York, where her fiancé, Brent Gloy, was on faculty at Cornell University in ag economics.
After marriage, Gloy gained a front row seat to the planning effort as her husband grew up as a farm kid in Nebraska, and maintained strong ties with his family farm.
The program Gloy is developing in Indiana aims at helping farmers process through the initial stages of succession planning.
"They want to get it right but have trouble knowing where to start," she said. "The hardest part of the planning process may well be the initial communication phase. Ultimately, all families are dysfunctional in ways that work for them," Gloy says.
"The trick is really working together towards the common goal, which is business continuity. Good communication is the best springboard for gaining momentum," she adds.
Gloy explained that most farmers are similar in many ways, no two farmers are exactly the same and no two estate plans will ever be exactly the same.
In New York, Gloy worked for the FarmNet and FarmLink, programs designed by Cornell to help farmers cope with the financial and psychological stress of farming. When she and her husband returned to Purdue three years ago, Gloy began developing a farm assistance plan for Indiana. Together with other extension specialists, Gloy helps families think through the complexities of estate planning. She asserts that planning for farm families is especially challenging due to the emotional and familial ties with the agrarian lifestyle.
"Farmers farm because they really love it," Gloy explains. As the average age of the farmer continues to increase, the need for effective succession planning will increase also.
"I find that farmers recognize the value of a succession plan but find themselves the first generation of formal planners," Gloy says.
Maurer is a senior in Ag Communications at Purdue University