Although not pleasant to think of, everyone needs to turn their minds to what will happen when they die.
Having a properly drafted and executed will is critical to ensure your property passes as you want it to.
If you do not have a will, your estate will be administered in accordance with the intestacy provisions of the Administration Act and your assets may pass to people you do not wish to benefit. If you do not have family, your property could end up with the Crown.
Wills allow you to have a say in what happens to your property when you die. You get to choose the people you wish to administer your assets and who you wish your property to go to following your death. There are also other important things that can be dealt with in your will, such as the appointment of guardians for your children.
Your will can also be an important part of your wider succession plan, particularly if you have a family trust. Often the power of appointment of new trustees for a family trust vests in the executors and trustees of the settlor's will. If you are the settlor or appointor for a family trust, the people you name as your executors and trustees will have a bearing on who the future trustees of the family trust will be and ultimately how it is managed.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Have you thought about who would make decisions in relation to your property and personal care and welfare if you were unable to do so yourself?
Enduring Powers of Attorney relating to your property and your personal care and welfare mean you appoint people to act as your attorney to make decisions for you, if you are no longer able to do so yourself. Having these documents in place provides peace of mind that these decisions will be made by someone you trust.
If you do not have Enduring Powers of Attorney in place and something happens to you, your family may have to apply to the Court to be appointed as property managers and welfare guardians. As well as being stressful and expensive for the family, ultimately the Court, not you, will decide who makes these decisions.
Protecting the family farm for future generations is often a concern weighing heavily on many farmers' minds.
It is important you have a well-thought-out plan in place.
Every farmer's circumstances will be different and dealing with succession planning should be looked at on a case-by-case basis, considering your family's needs and circumstances.
While it is important to consider who in your family has the skills and desire to run your farm, the needs of other family members, who may not have an interest in farming must also be considered. We suggest you meet with your solicitor and accountant to discuss options and put in place a succession plan.
This should not only provide for the continued operation of the farm, if that is your wish, but also appropriately deals with your obligations to the family.
If you have any other questions regarding the information above, feel free to call 0800 FARMING for free independent legal advice.