Farms have often been held within a family for generations and handed down when the owner dies. That would be the case where the ownership is straight-forward. That said, farms can also have quite complex structures set up to run them. Sometimes groups of individuals or businesses form a partnership, a limited liability partnership or a limited company.
Depending on the structure, there may be clear rules as to what happens when someone becomes incapacitated and isn’t able to make decisions. We tend to think of this happening when people are older, but farming is part of the riskiest industry sector so accidents and injuries occur more frequently.
It’s worth making sure that if you, either as a sole owner or as part of a partnership or company, are not able to make decisions for some reason, that the running of your farm does not grind to a halt. If you’ve made no legal provision for this eventuality, no one can automatically step in and take over.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and financial affairs is the legal document that allows you to appoint who would take over the running of your business. Without one in place, all the aspects of running your farm could be compromised, putting your business on hold for months. There is a process to deal with this after the event. It involves those closest to you applying to the Office of the Public Guardian for a deputy to be appointed to deal with your affairs. It can be a lengthy and costly process and the consequences of delay could be devastating for your business.
Imagine if your suppliers and staff couldn’t be paid or contracts couldn’t be negotiated. What about if you needed to sell the farm or were in the process of doing so?
It may be easier for a limited company to carry on, as they may have dealt with this eventuality within the Company’s Articles of Association, but that document will not represent the individual’s wishes.
The only way for you to clearly express who should take over what aspects of your business is through an LPA.
This means if you have to go away or are temporarily incapacitated, your business and any transactions such as a sale are not compromised.
For help setting up an LPA to protect your business, please call Pembroke Will Writers on 01634 353 658 or email us at [email protected].