Navigating the season of succession: A guide to farming legacy planning

Dec 15, 2023

Embracing the short days and festive spirit

As the days grow shorter, and the festive season envelops us in its warmth, it’s the ideal time for farming families to turn their attention to the crucial topic of succession planning. The legacy of your farm and the seamless transition to the next generation require thoughtful consideration, and now is the perfect moment to embark on this journey.

The challenge of succession planning

Succession planning has long been a formidable challenge for many farming families. The initial conversation is often daunting, leading to a delay that can have significant consequences in the future. At Whitley Stimpson, we understand the complexity of this process and emphasise that it’s not only necessary but the first step in ensuring a robust plan for the future.

The urgency of starting the conversation

For numerous farmers, succession planning remains a difficult discussion to initiate. Whether it’s due to the challenges of broaching the subject or the belief that it can be delayed until later years, the consequences of postponing can be severe. Ill health, age-related decline, or sudden deaths without a succession plan in place can add immense stress and worry for the remaining family members.

Key areas to consider in succession planning

Before embarking on the succession planning journey, it’s essential to consider key areas that form the foundation of a robust plan:

  • Is the land you farm owned or tenanted? If tenanted, on what type of lease?
  • Who owns the assets of the farm?
  • What direction do you see the farm taking going forwards?
  • How will each family member be involved in the farm/farming operations in the future?
  • Do you plan to diversify away from general farming activities?
  • Understanding these aspects enables you and your advisors to craft a comprehensive plan that aligns with the vision for your farm’s future.

Navigating tax implications

Succession planning isn’t just about the future of the farm; it also involves understanding and managing tax implications. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Inheritance Tax (IHT) are critical considerations. CGT may come into play if you plan to transfer assets while alive, but with expert advice and appropriate claims for Holdover Relief, it can be managed efficiently. IHT, when planned correctly, shouldn’t pose significant issues, thanks to Agricultural and Business Property Relief.

The path to a seamless transition

  • Once you’ve completed the succession planning exercise, certain milestones should be achieved:
  • Your Will has been updated to tie in with your succession plans and every family member involved also has one.
  • You have planned for the practical issues such as payment of any tax liabilities, your retirement income and housing needs.
  • You have agreed with all family members concerned the timing of the handover so that there are no hidden surprises.
  • You have communicated your plan to all external stakeholders of your farming business such as the bank, suppliers, and your customers.
  • Any partnership/shareholder agreements are consistent with the family’s wishes and Wills.

The Whitley Stimpson approach

At Whitley Stimpson, we recognise that succession planning can be a delicate topic within a farming family. However, delaying it for another day is rarely the optimal solution. With our experienced team, we guide you through this challenging process with sensitivity and respect, ensuring that when the time comes, the transition occurs efficiently and worry-free.

Get in touch for your succession planning journey

Our experienced team can take you through this difficult process in a sensitive and respectful way. To discuss succession planning for your farm, get in touch with Ian Parker on 01295 270200.

Don’t let succession planning be a distant thought. With a well-crafted plan, your farming legacy can transition seamlessly. 

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