No matter how many agreements you put in place or how long you spend thinking of things that could go wrong, you can’t account for every unknown. That’s why a method for dispute resolution is important.

Dispute resolution methods don’t have to be complicated. But both owners and successors have to agree to abide by the methods’ outcomes, whether they like the outcome or not.

Plan a multi-step process in case things aren’t resolved the first time around. You might start with an in-depth discussion where both sides share their views and make their case. There’s a discussion to see if the two sides can come to an agreement. If not, perhaps a trusted third party mediator is called in to see if they can broker a deal. Maybe the final step is to agree on an arbitrator who will hear both sides and then decide what’s going to happen (their decision would be binding).

How do we come up with ways to resolve disputes? You can talk with other farm owners and peers, advisors and friends to get ideas of how others resolve business-related disputes. Legal advisors are also pretty knowledgeable about mediating solutions and agreements. It’s a different process for everyone and it needs to fit your family’s circumstances.

Assignment

Draft a multi-step dispute resolution method.