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Robert E. Lee Ranch Company

Securing a ranchland legacy

Ready to formally pass management of the family ranch to their three adult children, Bob and Kathy Lee turned to Wipfli. They wanted a property succession plan that could support current and future generations of the family — as well as their nationally recognized cattle and grain operations.

The Challenge

The Lees, longtime Montana ranchers, were ready to retire. But passing ownership of their family’s land and agribusiness operations to their children posed costly tax implications, if not planned well. They needed a ranch inheritance plan that would support the business’ long-term viability — while carrying the least possible financial burden to their heirs.

The Solution

Recognizing that an outright sale and division of the property would be disadvantageous — resulting in potentially millions of dollars in tax liabilities — Wipfli worked with the Lees to develop a hybrid plan. They would transfer land control and ownership in stages, with portions transferred as present-day gifts and others set aside as future inheritances.

Wipfli asked tough questions, so we knew they were looking out for our best interests. They helped us meet our goal of continuing the legacy.
Bob Lee, Owner at Robert E. Lee Ranch Company

The results

The Lees were able to retire with peace of mind that comes from a well-developed transition plan. Working with Wipfli, they put provisions in place that balanced fair division of ownership alongside goals for the ranch’s continued profitability. Throughout the process, family harmony was maintained. The plan included strategies to support their son and daughter-in-law who were day-to-day managers of the property, as well as two daughters with less hands-on management roles.