It is vital that farmers have sensible wills in place to deal with their farming, business and personal assets after their death.
However, many farmers put off this important decision for many years, potentially leaving their family with tremendous problems including:
- financial hardship for some family members;
- disputes between family members;
- large inheritance tax bills; and
- loss of the family business.
The most frequent reason given? The conflicting problems of:
- achieving fairness and/or equality between those family members working in the business and those who are not; and
- ensuring the business can continue to function without having to be burdened with substantial debt to pay off non-farming family members
Melinda Newbery, a solicitor at Crewkerne based Stokes Partners LLP, comments “We are able to provide a variety of suggestions that can help overcome these issues, but there is no “one size fits all” solution, as each farming family’s circumstances is unique. The sort of things we might suggest include:
- life assurance, providing a cash lump sum for non-farming family members.
- identification of land or buildings not crucial to the farming operation, e.g. a holiday let, which could be developed or sold to fund payments to the non-farmers.
- leaving the farm equally between family members subject to a FBT for the farmers, giving protection to them for a period of time, and an income for the non-farmers.
- leaving the farm to the farmers, subject to a time limited obligation to pay part of the sale proceeds to the non-farmers on a future sale.”
“Ignoring the need to make a will is not an option, and expert legal advice is essential.”
Contact Melinda on 01460 279279 or email [email protected]