Farm Succession

We are passionate about rural communities and enjoy working with farming families on succession plans tailored to their unique needs and goals. We understand that family farms are more than just an asset on a balance sheet, and are aware of the emotional connection that farming families have to the land. It follows that we understand that discussions about farm succession can be challenging and can take time. We welcome input from our clients’ accountants and financial advisors to ensure a holistic approach is taken that considers both the financial and legal aspects of estate and succession planning. 

The Importance of Succession Planning

Succession planning for a farm or business makes the transition to retirement more manageable for the older generation.

A farm succession plan is a strategy that sets out the transactions and processes to be implemented to sustain a family farming business, so it can be passed on to future generations. The focus is on the profitability and longevity of the farm, in consideration of the needs of family members. 

A balanced succession plan aims to support the viability of the farm, keep the business in the family (if desired), ensure a sustainable retirement plan with financial security for retiring family members, and deliver workable arrangements for the next generation.

Passing on your Farm

If you are planning to pass on your farm to the next generation, it’s important to do so in a way that is as comprehensive as possible. 

We encourage you to discuss your plan with all family members, with a focus on open communication and realistic expectations. As with any other family-owned business, the enterprise will benefit if everyone knows what to expect and there is a smooth transition when the time comes. 

The older generation should consider when they will retire, whether they want to stay involved in the running of the farm in some capacity, and how they will fund their retirement. This normally involves considering who will take over the business of the farm and how the assets will be handed down. This is likely to involve some difficult conversations, but an independent professional can help you reach a consensus.  Any agreement reached should account for events that may change the plan – such as a death or divorce. 

Once an agreement is reached, it’s critical to distil the succession strategy into a clear and concise document that all family members sign. 

There are many elements to consider when creating a farm succession plan; it can be a daunting task, but we take time to understand your circumstances. We assist in the early stages of your plan by listening to your story and ideas and letting you know your options. We then work with you to develop an agreement that fits your unique family circumstances, then carry out the transactional elements to put your plan in place.

We believe that agriculture is the heart of rural communities and farm succession planning is an integral process. We work with a range of farming families before and during the transition process and can introduce clients to our network of other professionals so we can collaborate and find innovative ways to make things work better for you and your family.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 03 5728 1866 for expert legal advice.