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‘Check your Will’ advises rural expert

An expert in rural law is reminding those working in the agricultural sector to regularly review their Will to ensure their plans for the future are correctly catered for.

Recent figures showed that more than 60 per cent of the UK’s population have not made a Will. According to Melissa Taylor, solicitor in the Rural team at law firm Napthens, this figure may even be higher in the agricultural sector.

Melissa warns that many in the sector often assume that upon their death, ownership of a farm, for instance, will automatically transfer to the farmer’s spouse, while this often may not entirely be the case.

Other issues a farmer may face include inheritance tax planning – changes in land value and diversification can mean an increased risk of a hefty inheritance tax bill for surviving family members – and how to provide for children who are not involved in the running of the family farm.

Melissa said: “The nature of many rural businesses means that succession planning and planning for the future is often not as clear cut as may be first assumed.

“Farmers need to look at how best to leave their farming assets to their chosen successors, but to also take into account those children who may not wish to farm. There are a number of options to plan for this, such as the successors purchasing the farm on death, or being granted farm business tenancies.

“Succession planning and planning for the future are often very difficult decisions, particularly for farmers who have often worked all their lives to build up the business, but this is why it is so much more important that they do take the time to consider their options and plan for the future.

“The best advice is to remain proactive and seek help from advisors at an early stage.”