The family farm usually represents a lifetime’s work of those currently running it and even those before them.
Making sure that the farm is trading well and structured properly to take advantage of any agricultural and business inheritance tax reliefs available ready to be passed down to future generations is a key concern for many farmers.
However, unless you have left a valid Will, the delicate balance of ensuring that all your loved ones are cared for after you are gone, while still guaranteeing the continued well-being of the farm, could be put in jeopardy.
Laura Carter, Wills and Probate Solicitor and agricultural law specialist at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors in Malton explains why it is essential for every farmer to have a Will to ensure their farming business continues to flourish for future generations.
Everybody wants to ensure that their property and belongings are distributed according to their wishes when they pass away. If you die without leaving a valid Will you have died ‘intestate’ and the law decides which relatives will inherit from you – regardless of their differing needs or what your relationship was like.
This situation becomes even more problematic if a farming business is at stake. For example:
To ensure the continued success of your business you may want to pass your farm to a specific family member who has remained working with you while others have flown the nest - this may not be possible if you do not have a Will in place.
Agricultural land and assets can be very valuable and if they make up the bulk of your estate and you have not left a Will the whole of the business and assets may need to be broken up and sold off piece-by-piece to ensure all of those entitled under intestacy laws receive their fair share.
Coupled with this if you die intestate without a valid Will and without careful estate planning to make sure that all possible tax breaks are taken advantage of your liability for inheritance tax could be substantial, reducing the amount that can be passed on to your loved ones.
At Pearsons & Ward our specialist private client lawyers understand the complexities involved in estate planning for farmers. We can guide you through your options, ensuring that all your loved ones are provided for after your death, while making sure that the future of your farm is preserved.
We will talk through with you how the assets of your farm are currently owned, who you want to occupy the land and buildings and on what basis after you are gone, what each family member wants or needs from the farm, and the role they will play in running it in the future. We will then ensure that your plans for the long-term direction of the farm are put in place with the minimum of fuss.
We can advise you how to organise your affairs to minimise the impact of inheritance tax (taking advantage, where possible, of agricultural property relief and business property relief) and capital gains tax demands. Such reliefs can be generous but are easily lost unless you get the right advice at any early stage.