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29 Apr, 2021

Succession: Getting Everyone's Point of View

You know what your own concerns are, but how about everybody else? Declan McEvoy looks through some of the possible points of view and talks us through how to start your succession planning process.

You know what your own concerns are, but how about everybody else? Let’s look through some of the possible points of view – it can be helpful to get an understanding of how others might be feeling before you all get around the table.

Are you the outgoing generation?

Having worked on the farm all your life, you’ll need to prioritise your own financial security before transferring assets. You’ll need to think about the following:

  • Your timeframe to exit the business?

  • What level, if any, you wish to continue to be involved on the farm?

  • Will you need or want to continue to draw income from the business?

  • What will happen to the farm dwelling house?

  • Will you need to avail of the Fair Deal Nursing Home Scheme?

  • What are your wishes for your other children?

Are you the incoming generation?

If you’re the incoming generation, you’ll need to think fully about your own situation and your life goals and aspirations.

If you have a partner or spouse, their views are really important also. You’ll need to consider the following:

  • Can the farm afford to support your desired lifestyle (and possibly the outgoing generation’s)?

  • What’s your expectation on working hours, holidays, time off etc.?

  • There may be additional benefits to your wages that should be examined from a reward point of view, e.g. use of jeep/ car, fuel, electricity, health cover etc.

  • Can the farm meet your parents’ wishes to support siblings if applicable?

What if there’s no successor?

If there’s no willing successor in the immediate family, there are other options that you may wish to consider:

  • Partnership

  • Share Farming

  • Transfer to niece/nephew

  • Leasing

  • Possible sale (part or full disposal)

Some of the above solutions may be an option where the landowner wants to take a step back from the business’s day- to-day management or in situations where an interim solution is needed until a successor becomes old enough to take over the farm.

When succession planning starts on time, solutions can be found to address concerns about farm viability, fears about tax, lack of a willing successor, worries about income for the older generation and the potential impact of marital breakdown. The key is to seek advice as early as possible so that you can design a plan that fits your individual circumstances. You also need to make a Will and ensure that it reflects the vision set out in your succession plan. While you may know what you would like to happen when you retire or die, it’s unlikely your wishes will be carried unless a formal succession plan and a valid Will are in place. Your plans need to be kept under review and updated if your circumstances change.