A Newport-based law firm is holding a virtual seminar on succession planning for the farming community.

Often a difficult subject for farming families to consider, RDP Law’s Sioned Thomas will host the online event on January 27 from 7pm to 8pm.

She will be explaining why succession planning, although taboo, is a topic which requires attention and conversation.

She said: "It can be easy to get so consumed by the day to day running of your business, that you put off thinking about the future. ‘I’m too busy’, ‘I’m still young, I’ll deal with it later’, ‘I don’t want to talk about it, it’s too depressing’, ‘It’s too difficult, I wouldn’t know where to start’. But not giving thought to what would happen if a family member becomes ill or dies can cause serious problems.

"In most farming businesses you have the complication of running a business with your family members.

"You may have multiple generations living under the same roof and involved in the business.

"As land prices have increased there are more and more disputes regarding farming businesses and because of the added family connection those disputes can become particularly unpleasant."

She said it was important to look at the situation considering the different elements of the business such as: has there been any diversification?; who owns what asset?; how is the business run ie a partnership, sole trader, company?; and are there any third parties involved?

The tax implications of all the above issues need to be looked at and consideration given to maximising the available allowances Agricultural Property Relief and Business Property Relief.

Ms Thomas said: "Often there are no formal documents, but merely an informal agreement between parties, which could in itself be an issue. It is not only a Will that needs to be prepared but other documents are important such as partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, lasting powers of attorney, formal tenancy agreements or grazing licences.

"We recommend you begin this process by introducing succession planning as part of your business plan, involving the whole family.

"Not only must death and illness be considered but also retirement and how the next generation will step up as leaders and move the business forward. Discussing these elements lets all voices be heard and hopefully will lead to less disputes.

"And finally, involving all your professional advisors in your succession planning discussions is vital to ensure every aspect works together and the process is a smooth one. Your solicitors, accountants, financial planners, business advisor and any other professionals you may require for your own circumstances can each bring their own expertise to the table, to ensure a plan that works for you and your family is put in place for the future."

Sioned Thomas heads up both the Agricultural and Private Client departments at RDP Law. She has extensive experience in estate administration and succession planning for farming clients as well as acquisition, disposal and re-financing of agricultural property. Sioned has a farming background and understands that the family relationship within a farming business is like no other. Her passion for farming clients and their businesses is undeniable and enables RDP to provide a specialist range of services based around agriculture, estate planning and farm diversification. Sioned is also an advocate of the welsh language and can conduct meetings in Welsh or English.

To take part in the seminar contact charlotte.turner@rdplaw.co.uk.