Saying thank you has real value

December 21, 2018

Needless to say, Thanksgiving has passed, but does the feeling of thankfulness or do the words “thank you” have a certain season or holiday?

At some point, most of us have either had a conversation, watched something or listened to a speaker and we either felt like we got hit by a brick or were ready to hit someone else with a brick.

Recently I had a meeting with a couple in their late 60s that I would describe as “salt of the earth” people. They had five children and they clearly expressed they wanted their farming heir to have a good chance to continue the farming operation.

After 45 years of relentless farming, the couple was ready to slow down. Some of this slow-down accelerated a year ago when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Some assets in their estate had just been inherited within the past year when his own mom had passed away.

Did you catch that? Some assets he had waited many, many years to own and already he is turning right around and planning to give them away along with his other sizable farm assets. Easy to say, but sometimes hard to do.

During several appointments they were very clear on their final distribution intent, but they also had a move to town planned so they wanted some farm asset distribution to occur immediately. This included giving the home place and some assets that would be valuable to their farming son now. They definitely appreciated their son for what he added to the farm the past 10 years, but there was also some noticeable tension between their farming heir and his wife and them.

There is often two sides to every story, but from everything I could observe, they had already helped their farming heir and his wife monetarily a lot along the way. Now they were planning some immediate gifts as well as some favorable future distribution after they both pass away.

The gift and distribution plan should be greeted with a huge “thank you” from their son and his wife.

Keep in mind that prior to this we spent a great deal of time estimating values of various farm land, buildings, machinery and other assets. Putting values on real assets always involves some “best estimates,” but they got pretty close and felt comfortable using those numbers as a general guide.

Due to the tension, they asked me to convey the current and future gift and distribution plan to their farming heir and his wife. To put it in perspective, there was at least $500,000 of immediate gift, and well over $2 million of future discounts being given. I scheduled the meeting and as I proceeded to explain the parents’ plan, I expected an outpouring of gratitude. But no. The plan was greeted with skepticism, negativity, negotiation, grumpiness and not one ounce of thankfulness.

Almost instantly, I wanted to pick up a brick and throw it and tell them to quit being cry babies and simply be thankful for everything their parents had done — past, present and future.

Think about it. Dad has stage 4 cancer, likely nearing the end of his life, but doing this planning with his wife and being extremely generous with what he had worked his tail off for. All they really want, and should get, is a thank you or some appreciation, but instead the response was negative and ungrateful.

To the parents, a small check and a big thank you would be more valuable than a big check by itself.

For all the different times we try to put a value on land, machinery, buildings or other assets, the words “thank you” or some expression of gratitude can be the great equalizer that puts aside all monetary values.

In this situation dad and mom, as well as all the non-farming siblings, were OK with the unequal distribution plan if it had been received with gratitude and a thank you. Instead, everyone is now ticked off because someone simply couldn’t express gratefulness and say thank you.

Time will tell how this situation comes together, or unravels.

It did make me think if I have missed the opportunity to express my gratitude or to say thank you to someone. What about you? Are you grateful for what you have? Is it time for you to tell someone thank you?

Update hourly