Why farmers need wills

Gabrielle dell portrait.

Gabrielle Dell

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 325840

Email gdell@bsandi.co.uk

When your business and your family are deeply intertwined, planning for the future becomes all the more important.

Firstly, you may want your family business to pass smoothly through future generations. Secondly, you will likely want to help those you’ll leave behind by setting out clear wishes about inheritance and minimising their exposure to tax. But the reality is that future planning isn’t always at the top of priority lists, particularly when life is busy and when the need to plan doesn’t seem pressing.

As lawyers who specialise in advising clients in the agricultural sector, we know that far too few farmers and farming families are looking ahead with the right focus. It makes for potentially difficult times ahead. There’s the possibility of wealth becoming ‘lost’ and perhaps even family fallouts, as siblings, children and those further removed argue over their entitlement to a share of the pot.

There are all sorts of steps that can be taken now to take care of the future. One of the essentials is: making a will.

Why make a will?

A will ensures that assets pass to the people they’re intended to. Where a person dies without having made a will, there is a real risk of property and possessions passing elsewhere via the rules of intestacy. One significant issue with intestacy is that it doesn’t automatically benefit unmarried couples; if a person who is not married or in a civil partnership dies without having made a will, their partner should not expect to inherit under the rules of intestacy. A will, on the other hand, can specifically provide for them.

What are the risks to farmers of not making a will?

If a person owns a farm outright, or is a joint owner, then not making a will would leave that business and property (usually of substantial value) vulnerable to the ‘unwanted’ effects of intestacy. One potential consequence is that the farm, or their share of it, passes to someone who is perhaps unsuited to its ownership, at the expense of the person who had been lined up to take over. This could lead to family arguments over what ‘would have been intended’, and facing instability as the dispute distracts from the running of the farm. Also complicated is where parts of the business pass to different people under intestacy. This can create a heavily disjointed situation that stalls the smooth-running of the farm. A will can mitigate that risk by strategically allocating assets to the right people.

Is it difficult to make a will?

Generally, no, although wills dealing with agricultural land, property and possessions are usually a little more complicated than those that don’t involve a family business. We have a great deal of experience in advising farmers, farming families and farming businesses on future planning, so we understand the issues, challenges and relationships that exist in the sector. It means we can guide clients through the process of allocating their property and possessions and setting out their wishes, as well as advising on tax efficiency (including farming-related tax reliefs).

To speak to us about making a will or amending an existing will, contact our team on info@bsandi.co.uk or call on 01264 353411.

Go back

Expert Legal Support For All Your Legal Needs

Find out more about how we can help you in your circumstances by contacting us. You can call us on 01264 353411email us at info@bsandi.co.uk or complete our online enquiry form.