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5 Top Tips for Farm Succession Planning

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the subsequent succession of King Charles III may have been a dramatic and at times emotional process for the Royal Family to endure and for the world to watch.  But are there some lessons that we can take into our farming businesses whether we are a family farm or employ staff?

Succession is a subject that is often ignored, put off or taboo, particularly on a family farm.  However, many farms lose senior or experienced staff from time to time and without careful forward planning, the loss of a key member of staff can cause significant challenges to a business.

So how can you begin the process with your family or team? Here are 5 tips that may help you.

1. Make time

There is always something that may be more pressing than a discussion around succession. It will often be an “important but not urgent” task that gets put off to another day.  But life can change in an instant and if no discussions have ever taken place, it can be far more difficult to start a conversation when engulfed by grief or distracted by significant changes in circumstances.

2. Listen

You may have things you want to say. But be ready and prepared to listen to the views of parents, grandparents, children, and siblings.  Everyone will have a view and if we listen carefully to the concerns and ideas of others, we are far more likely to secure a better outcome for all.

3. Setting

A discussion around succession isn’t a subject to begin across a noisy parlour or busy yard. It needs a quiet, and sometimes neutral location away from the farm. The kitchen table isn’t always the best place either so choose somewhere where you won’t be interrupted, is private and calm.

4. Personalities

Everyone is different and has a different perspective on work, life, and communication. This means that some of those involved may need more time, more information, and more discussion than others. Respecting the different communication styles and approaches is vital to robust, open, and respectful conversations.

5. Facilitator

It can be hard to start the conversation but even harder to keep it going. Use the services of a qualified succession expert to facilitate your meetings and be ready to call in the experts around finance, tax, and land issues.

Remember – farm succession planning isn’t something we should put off or decide to tackle “later”. It’s always better to get fundamental decisions agreed upon while everyone is healthy and not under pressure. It can always be revisited if situations change – just like a Will.

If you’d like to discuss farm succession planning, get in touch with the REAL Success team here.