Farming Families and Succession Part 1

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By Richard Horwood, Partner and Head of Private Client

Many farming families find the issue of succession planning a difficult balancing act to achieve.There are often competing interests, uncertainties and factors beyond an individual’s control that can lead to some families ignoring the issue!Over the course of the next three articles I hope to provide some guidance and thoughts on issues that can help the farming family to consider his or her options with a view to achieving the best possible outcome.

A good starting point may be to consider the following:

  1. What is the structure of the farm and business? What are the assets owned by the various family members or within the business structure? What are they worth currently, and also importantly, what might they be worth in the future?
  2. What is your overriding objective so far as the farm is concerned?
  3. Is the plan to pass on all or part of the farm during lifetime, or only on death?
  4. Are there other family members not involved within the farm that you wish to benefit in some way?
  5. What level of control and protection is important to you?

Answering these questions is likely to be a time consuming and thought provoking process and there is no “one size fits all” approach to these issues.However, by adopting the following guidelines you should be able to achieve some clarity:

  1. Be open and honest with the family, and the other people involved within the farm business.
  2. Be prepared to be flexible and to change your mind on particular aspects.
  3. Maintain good communication, remembering that this is a process, not a one-off transaction.
  4. Take professional advice throughout the course of the process.
  5. Be prepared to try new ideas, passing on responsibility and getting people more involved, even if it does not work.
  6. Stay positive!

Such discussions can be emotional, can cause some tension, but it is much better to be involved with the discussions at an early stage than to have matters forced on you at a later point in time.

In the next article I will talk about how matters might be structured if passing assets on under the terms of a Will.

For further information please contact Richard Horwood.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.