Graziers and farmers are understandably very attached to their family properties and rightly so as, in many cases, these properties are their livelihoods and may also have been passed down through generations of the family.
Now more than ever the issue of effective succession planning is becoming more complex. Weighing up the value of such assets against the work and money required to operate the farm, for what can in tough years be a merge return, and the interest of all children plays heavily on the minds of property owners when it comes to the question of “who gets the farm when I go?”. One thing we know for certain is that the farm will pass on to someone at some stage whether by sale or gift during one’s lifetime or following death. What is important is that the issue is not left to chance but is carefully considered by owners during their lifetime.
Although this is often not an easy issue, we find that good planning often involves open and frank discussions so that there are no surprises when the plan is put in place during one’s lifetime or after death. Part of any plan for farmers and graziers must also involve planning for their retirement, which may or may not mean moving off the property.
Effective succession or estate planning must be just that, both effective and planned. This involves much more than just a making a Will, putting it in a safe and not looking at it for many years or at all. Sadly however we have seen this happen far too often – and sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Disposal of property and/or business during one’s lifetime rather than by Will after death is an option for graziers and farmers and one that we find is being considered more frequently. There are Stamp Duty exemptions (or partial exemptions) available for such disposals if by way of gift (or partial gift) and if all of the requirements contained in the duty legislation are satisfied. This can result in substantial savings that would otherwise be payable on a transaction where such duty exemptions do not apply.
Most importantly, don’t leave your planning too late or to chance. Family feuds are both very costly and divisive. The earlier you start such exercise the better it will be for all concerned both from a cost effectiveness point of view and importantly, for your own peace of mind.
For more information on this topic – come along to our Seminar at Beef Week 2015 in Rockhampton.