CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new project at Oregon State University has developed a series of workshops, a companion workbook and a DVD to explore the "human side" of estate planning for family forest land owners, farmers and other land-based family businesses.

The "Ties to the Land" workshops are sponsored by the Forestry Extension Program and Austin Family Business Program. Two workshops are scheduled in November for Baker City and Beaverton, and two more in April for Central Point and Redmond. Several others are in the planning stage.

"Today, 50 percent of Oregon's small forest land owners are 65 or older," said Brad Withrow-Robinson, an OSU Extension forester. "We face a critical issue in passing the business and its supporting land base on to the following generation."

Many landowners want to preserve their family lands but don't know how to involve family members in ownership and operation of the businesses. Lawyers and accountants can help address technical aspects of this transition through business and legal mechanisms, including trusts, estates, and family corporations. But for families, Withrow-Robinson said, the real challenge may not be technical issues, but communication.

"Without informed communication, personal relationships and family emotions may prevent full and honest exploration of the options, and families may fail to meet their goal of passing the land on intact," he said.

The workshops will include presentations by leading experts, practical exercises to help families develop some techniques needed to address tough issues, and a panel of local land-based family business owners who will speak about their own experiences. Participants will receive a copy of the companion workbook and DVD, designed to help families continue to improve and direct their communications at home. The workbook can also be purchased separately.

More information about the workshops, fees and registration, or workbooks can be obtained at the Intergenerational Family Forest Project resource website, or by calling Austin Family Business Program, at (541) 737-3326 or (800) 859-7609.

Speakers at the workshops will include Clint Bentz, a certified public accountant, family forest owner and manager, and chairman of the American Tree Farm System; and Mark Green, holder of the A.E. Coleman Chair in Family Business and director of the OSU Austin Family Business Program.

The presentation in Baker City will be Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 2-5 p.m. at the OSU Extension Office, Baker County Fairgrounds in Baker City. The registration deadline is Nov. 2.

The presentation in Beaverton will be Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Washington County Extension Office at the Capital Center, Room 1400, entrance D-1 on the south side, in Beaverton. The registration deadline is Nov. 10.

The presentation in Redmond will be Monday, April 16, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the OSU Extension office; and the presentation in Central Point will be Tuesday, April 17, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the OSU Extension Office.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson,