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Today I baked the “Ultimate Fruitcake” in memory of my youngest sister Grace, who was killed by a drunk driver, 21 years ago today. This yearly ritual of baking her favourite fruitcake fills my home with wonderful scents, and helps me to recall the short life of a dearly loved sister. Last night a long time family friend, Jane, called to say she was thinking of me, and Grace, and my mom, Lois.  Jane recalled  that my mom’s laughter  was so loud that it rolled across a room, and then the tears of joy  usually followed. Jane was the one who sat through the night while my mom lay dying in palliative care. It was sweet to visit over the phone, and reflect on the lives of loved ones.

Soon  I’ll be doing a roadshow with an accounting firm to talk about the “Death of a farmer”. Bet that title just makes you want to jump in a car and come ! My portion is to talk about leaving a lasting legacy, the final wishes, how you would like to be remembered, what to do with sentimental possessions, and the family issues around money and land. (And they only gave me an hour !)

I love talking about this stuff. I’m not so good about organizing all the documents that I want to have put into place, but I have started.

I want you to start, too, : to leave a manual for your loved ones of your important documents, wishes, funeral plans, advisors, plumber etc.  Make a  “life “ binder that someone could grab if your home was flooding, a loved one suddenly dies, with  everything all organized.

I have resources from the internet that will help get you started:

“The Lasting Legacy “ workbook is from the northwest states, but it is a great workbook that you can print out to get started. Go to www.rightrisk.org and look for the Lasting Legacy Course. I would print the first 48 pages of the workbook, as the four pillars of legacy are well documented…your values and life lessons, personal possessions of emotional value, instructions and wishes fulfillment, and financial  assets and real estate.

The other downloadable resource is $10, but worth it “The Organize your Life workbook” by Mary Kelly. She is keen to have you tab things in a binder and get started on giving your family the gift of peace by having all your important stuff easy to locate when disaster or death strike. Go to www.organize-you.com .  Do you have a listing of computer passwords and the online presence of your family ?

You can also visit Jolene Brown’s article  “What to do with my body when I die” at www.jolenebrown.com. Jolene is a farmer and speaker friend whose wit and common sense may be the kick  start you need to get things done.

If you don’t use the internet, then go to your bank , credit union, or financial planner and ask them for an organizer for your important documents. The Wainwright Credit Union in Alberta has a wonderful pamphlet and computer disk that is a handy tool to have completed if you are an executor of an estate.

Sounds like a pile of work. Yes it is, but when have women shied away from the tough stuff. ? Think of a reward that will motivate you to keep plugging through.

I purchased a professional label machine, coloured sticky tabs, and use coloured index dividers to help with the organizing job. I also have a red file called “funeral plans” that I save funeral bulletins in. This file has been shared on more that one occasion to help plan memorials.

Have you noticed that some folks are very sure that their legacy will not include a funeral service? I think that’s a bad call, and a huge threat to undermining the value of grieving as family , friends, and community. I think we need to find ways to honour and celebrate folks while living, such as parties to tell them how great they are, and also think of how we wish to be remembered. You can give your possessions away while still living, and then delight in the gratitude and stories that are shared around special items.

My mom purchased a black ranch mink coat with Grace, in the early 80’s by selling a truckload of wheat. She didn’t wear the coat much in Winnipeg, so she decided to gift it to me, 5 years before she died. She told me the story of the coat, wanted me to enjoy it in my rural travels, and was delighted  that I got great mileage from it. She died in the middle of harvest, comatose for 2 weeks with an asthma attack.  People treat me differently when I wear a black mink coat, but I really don’t dwell on that as much as I appreciate being warm in January, and remembering my Mom’s love and care for me.

A young widow friend told me at our pajama party last week that she is really thankful that she developed a relationship with a trusted financial advisor, long before her hubby’s death. She also endorses the book “Widow to Widow” by  Genevieve Davis Ginsburg as an excellent read for new widows. I’ve read it ,too and think I should give it to widows in lieu of flowers.

I also encourage you to read “Money, Possessions and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn which comes highly recommended by chicken farming cousins who now have new plans for their bequests. I’ve just started it and appreciate the Christian principles on stewardship, tithing, and financial tools to teach children about handling money.

If you are in a second marriage you will appreciate “The Cottage, The Spider Brooch, and the Second Wife: how to overcome the challenges of estate planning by Sandy Cardy. It is written in a novel story style.

If my passion for taking control of  life’s affairs could jump off this page, you might want to sit down with me and have tea and fruitcake. In 21 years I have planned 4 funerals, and someday my family will have to deal with my legacy.

Let me know when you finish organizing the “life”binder. I will happily send a free copy of my book “Planting the Seed of Hope” to the first 3 letter writers.

Elaine Froese, Box 957, Boissevain, MB, R0K 0E0   elaine@elainefroese.com

Live intentionally. It’s your farm, your family , your choice. Blessings on your journey.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)elainefroese.com

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