Pam Johns, Partner and Head of Rural Services at Coodes Solicitors, explains why it is especially important for farmers to have a valid and up-to-date Will.
“Coodes Solicitors is handling a growing number of cases involving contested Wills and a significant proportion of these involve landowning families in Cornwall.
“One of the reasons for the increase in disputed Wills is the fact that more people are divorcing, entering second marriages or choosing to cohabit instead of marry. For farm-owners who are cohabiting or have children from a previous marriage, a Will is clearly vital. But with many farming families having assets running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, the outcome of a loved one not having a Will can be catastrophic. When these families are faced with grief, they have the added stress of trying to keep the business going, which can be very difficult in the absence of a Will.
“A properly drawn up Will gives you the opportunity to make choices about who should run the farm after your death and also means your executors can step into your shoes to carry out important tasks, like paying wages and suppliers, to keep the business going. Without a Will, a Grant of Representation needs to be obtained to give your administrators control of the business and this can take months. The Administrators are set down by statute and are not always who you might have chosen to deal with your affairs.
“At Coodes we have expertise in drawing up Wills and partnership agreements, so we ensure that they complement one another. We understand the complexity of many farm partnership arrangements and are also used to working collaboratively with accountants and farm consultants.
“None of us wants to imagine the worst and perhaps this is why so many people avoid making a Will. However, if you are a farmer there is so much at stake if you don’t.”
Pam Johns is a Partner and Head of Rural Services at Coodes Solicitors and a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. For advice on any aspect of agricultural law, contact Pam Johns on 01409 253425 or firstname.lastname@example.org