Monday, 16 November 2009

Wills are challenged

Many solicitors tell me that one of the areas of their business that is growing fast is the contesting of Wills. Many people assume that once they have made a Will that is the end of the story but increasingly it is not. Looking into this area I have been surprised by how many people are contesting Wills.
All this underlines how important it is to discuss your Will with the family so that all the possible contentious issues are sorted out. If families contest Wills against each other that is usually the end of all reasonable family relationships. We all want to leave a legacy but none of us want that legacy to be a split and unhappy family. None of us would like to think that our children will be quarrelling irreconcilably because of our actions or lack of forethought. We would all like our children to remember us fondly not as the cause of pain and stress.
Writing a Will that has been discussed and agreed with family members lifts a huge weight and worry off people's shoulders and it is not as difficult or as costly as people imagine. It is one of those things that we put off, some times until it's too late. So take action today. Get that Will sorted and ensure that you leave behind a happy family.

Friday, 4 September 2009


It always surprises me when a client says when I recommend that their accountant be present at a family meeting, that their accountant ‘isn’t much good’. When running a business, especially one as complex as a farm business, a good accountant can be a valuable asset.
I don’t believe that there are a lot of bad accountants out there – although there are some! – I think that maybe we don’t communicate with them as effectively as we could. That communication should start with ourselves and having clarity about what we want from our accountant.
If we just want someone to sort out our accounts at the end of the year that’s quite straightforward. However is we want someone to save us from paying too much tax and give us tax advice throughout the year then that is something we should ask for.
When talking about succession and avoiding paying Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax this is a specialist area. Some accountants are very good and others are not. Therefore don’t be afraid to ask for advice elsewhere. I know of one tax expert that works with other accountants and signs a declaration promising not to ‘poach’ the client. Also don’t forget that if you are a member of the NFU, CLA (not sure about the FUW- apologies) they have a free tax advice service.
In the end you get the accountant you deserve. After all you give the information to the accountant and you can shop around if you’re not satisfied with the service you are getting.

Are you an eagle in disguise?

I love this story!

One day a man was passing a farmyard and he stopped to ask the farmer why an eagle, was living with the chickens.
The farmer told him that it behaved like a chicken, it had never learned to fly so it thought it was a chicken. The man replied that surely the eagle still had the soul of an eagle and could be taught to fly.
After a bit of discussion the farmer agreed to see if the eagle could fly. The man picked up the bird and said to the bird “stretch out your wings and fly” but the eagle saw the chickens pecking around on the ground and hopped back down to join them.
The next day the man took the eagle onto the roof of a farm shed and held it up saying, “ stretch out your wings and fly” but the eagle was afraid and hopped back down to the chickens.
The next day the man took the eagle up to the top of a nearby mountain and held the eagle up saying “you are an eagle you should be soaring through the skies”. The eagle looked back down the mountain to the farmyard below but still he would not fly. Then the sun came out from behind the clouds and shone on the eagle’s back. He looked up into the sky and started to tremble then he stretched out his wings and soared into the air. He flew around majestically and then disappeared from sight.
The eagle may have missed his life as a chicken but he never went back to the farmyard because he was an eagle not a chicken.

So are you an eagle pretending to be a chicken? What’s holding you back from becoming all that you can be?