Planning for the Future: thoughts from Emma Blamire, Agricultural Law Solicitor of Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors who is one of our Farmstock Futures champions
"With the recent publication of the Defra Exit Fund Scheme the thorny issue of retirement and succession has become a hot topic once again. Leaving the future unresolved really can cost the farm. Time and time again we see family disputes that lead to fights that could have been avoided, huge sums lost and the costs that go with years of argument.
Farming families can be a hotbed of tension; parents who aren’t ready to retire and children who are impatient to take over the farm or to change its direction, marriage stepchildren and divorce. Add into the mix the changes to support payment and the possibility of accessing a one-off lump capital sum and it isn’t hard to foresee that difficult conversations need to be had.
High profile court cases over the last decade provide timely reminders of the need to be clear and plan for the future. Take the daughter who had dedicated her life to the farm, missing out on other opportunities and who following a fall out with the family was awarded £1.3million from a farm worth £3.8 million in recognition of the promise made to her or the son who positioned his whole life around the farm and the expectation of his inheritance took £3.3m out of his parents’ £4m. Saying ‘all this will be yours one day’ could cost you millions of pounds if you don’t really mean it.
The answer for farmers looking to their future is to get things out and into the open, and to ensure that things are not left unsaid. Simple things like a decent Will and Partnership Agreement can help prevent disputes arising.
Retirement, succession and death can be a scary topic for all members of the family. Parents don’t want to think about the future when they might not be here and what they might miss and children don’t want to pressure their parents into handing over all of their hard-earned work.
Here at Cartmell Shepherd we are always advising our farming clients to look to the future. You should always be exploring your options for moving your business forward. We can help you alongside your accountant to steer you in the right direction and to facilitate the difficult discussion when it comes to succession planning. Your solicitor can help you implement your plans to make the future and future plans seem far less daunting far less daunting and to provide peace of mind."