Surrounded, as we are, by prime agricultural land, it will come as no surprise that our agricultural solicitors have been advising farmers and farming families on all their legal needs for over 170 years. In the 1950s, the firm formed a syndicate with a local agent, John Staite, to buy most of the land being sold by the Earl of Warwick with the purpose of selling farms and properties to their tenants. Our connections with the land remain as strong as ever.
We advise farmers and farming families on everything to do with their farm, their rural business and their own individual legal needs.
Our team are creative in their problem solving and this can range from the transfer of land retaining overage rights so as to benefit the transferring party, the granting of farm business tenancies or a combination of other solutions. It is important to understand that the right resolution is not always a cash settlement sum and when dealing with agricultural disputes, it is not unusual for land assets to far outweigh cash assets.
Strategic land ownership and development
Agricultural land has its own unique tax structure and forms of tenancy. Making sure you have the correct arrangements in place is vital. We can advise on:
- Tenancies, share farming agreements and contract agreements
- Options and promotion agreements
If you have land with possible planning potential we can help you to maximise your return whilst minimising your tax liabilities.
Rural business structures
Alongside your will we can provide you with practical help on structuring your business to be tax efficient and provide a robust legal structure for your assets to be passed to your family. We can advice on:
- The best corporate structure – partnerships and limited companies
- Partnership and shareholder agreements
- Cross options
"They are dominating the Warwickshire marketplace," notes a source, adding: "I have a huge amount of respect for them: they're technically excellent lawyers."
Succession planning for rural businesses
Farmers face unique problems when carrying out succession planning. We advise farming families on tax and succession planning for the future ensuring that their business is protected for future generations. We work very closely with other professionals with extensive knowledge of the agricultural sector to ensure that matters are dealt with in the most efficient way possible from a taxation point of view and having in mind the future generations that may take on the business further down the line.
We can advise you on the most appropriate will for your circumstances and help produce a tax efficient plan to ensure your assets pass to the correct individuals. Making appropriate plans is important to minimise any tax liabilities and reduce the risk of family disputes.
Farming family matters
Our family and divorce lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with divorces, prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements. That combined with their understanding of the agricultural sector gives them an advantageous position when dealing with your matter.
It is often in these situations a case that the divorcing parties wish to retain assets so as to provide for future generations but this is against a background of more than one generation residing in the matrimonial home, various family members of potentially an extended family unit being partners in the farming partnership and the need to provide accommodation going forward for both parties.
In some circumstances, trusts may be involved which have been set up from the wills of previous generations, and it is necessary for all of these issues to be taken into consideration so as to provide a resolution which is satisfactory for all parties.
Alternative dispute resolution is often used to try and secure a settlement before resorting to the court process which not only saves costs but also allows all parties to “get around a table” and find a settlement which suits all of them while providing for the next generation.
Wills and tax planning for farmers and their families
As a farmer you have worked hard to get where you are. Having worked hard you need to make appropriate plans to make sure your farm and your assets are protected and ensure it passes to your family and loved ones. We can help you put in place planning to protect your family, your assets and give you peace of mind that you have done the best for your nearest and dearest.
Will disputes in farming families
We also have a specialist contentious probate team dealing with will disputes, issues which arise in relation to an executor’s conduct where they have taken inappropriate or no action at all, where a member of the family has been left out of a will but believes that they should be provided for and proprietary estoppel claims. Proprietary estoppel ordinarily occurs in an agricultural setting where a son or daughter thinks they are due to inherit the farm but on the passing of the parent, does not do so.
The expertise within the team not only lies with the wide ranging disputes that are dealt with on a daily basis but with the fact, there is an understanding of the agricultural setting in which disputes arise. It is important to seek to achieve resolutions that preserve family relationships, preserve assets for future generations and allow the business to continue while a dispute is ongoing.
Jennie Wheildon from Wright Hassall discusses the impact of coronavirus is having on the rural property market with the ...Read article