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Rural succession planning warning

A rural law expert has highlighted the importance of good succession planning for farming families after a high profile case which has seen a family divided over the ownership of their farm.

In the case, it was reported that James Davies worked on his family farm for 10p an hour because he understood the £1million business would be left to him by his father.

However, when his father died his Will asked for the farm to be divided equally between Mr Davies and his siblings, which caused a dispute resulting in a court decision in Mr Davies’ favour.

According to Melissa Taylor, solicitor in the rural team at law firm Napthens in Penrith, the case highlights the importance of good succession planning.

She said: “In this case it appears the farmer has taken the word of his father that he would come to inherit a substantial business, but after his father’s death when the Will has been read it turns out the farm has been left split between five siblings.

“This is not an unusual scenario. In the rural sector it is common to find a farm which is run by one child in the family, while the others have taken the decision not to be involved in the family business.

“It is therefore important for anybody in this situation to ensure that they are having regular open and honest discussions about the future and trying to ensure legal documents such as Wills reflect those discussions and wishes.

“Independent advice should also be sought when planning for the future, and independent witnesses should be sought when any major decision is taken about the business.

“Where a number of children are involved and could come to inherit in the future, it is equally important to ensure that all parties are clear in setting out their intentions, so no confusion can arise as has occurred in this case.”

If you have any queries surrounding this issue, please give our team a call on 03456710276.

Napthens Solicitors Employee Melissa Taylor