Leaving nothing to chance will secure your family's farming future, advises top legal experts at annual seminar.

Tue 29th May 2018

DIVORCE and death – while they may be issues that families avoid discussing, those in the farming community must do so to secure the future of their businesses.

That was the advice given to more than 50 agricultural professionals who gathered for the annual Spring Conference held by the region’s largest law firm, Wilkin Chapman solicitors.

Five of the firms most knowledgeable legal minds took to the stage at East Yorkshire’s Tickton Grange Hotel, for the 2018 agricultural event – which is traditionally held in the run-up to the summer show season.

On the agenda was the importance of planning for the future. With Brexit leading to uncertainty within the profession this was more important than ever, they advised.

Partner and agricultural property and land expert James Lloyd said: “I have seen uncertainty over Brexit leading to a number of people either who wish to get out of farming partnerships, making arrangements to go and do something else, or adjusting their position within the partnership.”

 Mr Lloyd warned of the risks if land-owners failed to take proper advice – especially considering the complex issues that can occur when farming partnerships are set up, rearranged or break down. Old or insufficiently detailed documentation, coupled with lack of communication, can have devastating consequences, he warned. Nevertheless, he ended on an upbeat note, considering the positive impact of ‘steps that can be taken’. 

Meanwhile, Senior Solicitor and expert in family matters, James Marsden, urged marrying couples to consider getting properly drawn-up prenuptial agreements, or ‘prenups’ in place. While not binding in UK law, case studies have shown their content is often upheld by the Court.

“They are an extremely important document. Death is not the only thing that can affect farming families and break farms apart, it is also divorce,” he said.

Earlier in the evening, the audience heard from Partner Lesley Archer and Senior Solicitor Louisa Wardle on the importance of up-to-date and properly drawn-up Wills and Last Powers of Attorney, with ‘nothing left to chance’.

The evening was hosted by the firm’s Head of Agriculture, Partner Catherine Harris.

Just Beverley