Lon and Laura Rankin own several small and moderate size parcels of woodland in Oregon’s mid-Willamette valley. They’d taken care of the legal side of succession planning long ago. “I learned about the importance of planning from my father and uncle. They both had trusts and the transfer to the next generation went so smoothly,” said Lon. So as soon as it made sense, they set up a trust too. They had been proactive and were content they were on top of the issue.
But that was before they went to a Ties to the Land succession planning workshop. “We hadn’t really thought about family meetings, but when we heard Clint Bentz talk about it, we knew we really needed to do that,” said, Lon. Laura noted that they now meet regularly. “We plan the meeting, take notes and send out signed and dated copies to all the participants,” said Laura. The family meetings have been an important forum for the Rankins to communicate what they’re doing on the property and get input and questions from their heirs. “We’re very open,” said Lon. “It’s like Clint says, if you want them to be engaged, they need to be involved.” They’ve also discovered that even family can surprise you. Lon recalled a very interesting family meeting in which they asked their children which parcel each was interested in. “They surprised us,” said Laura. It didn’t come out just the way we thought it would.”
The Rankins' grandchildren are now very involved with the family forest. “They’re very hard workers. They’re involved in the decisions, the work, and they’re involved in the profits too,” said, Lon. But it’s not all work for the grandkids; Laura and Lon have created many recreational opportunities such as ATV trails and a target practice range.
I now tell everyone that they need to talk about the future of their land. I tell them about how important our family meetings are. Mostly, I never know if what I said sticks; but in a few cases I do know it’s helped other people get started.”