21 June, 2011
blog by Sue Savill of Ashfords Solicitors.
With the next generation of the Royal Family embarking on
married life, attitudes towards inheritance and succession issues
may be changing.
A recent survey by Chartered Accountants, Saffery Champness, for
Country Life Magazine has found that more major land owners are now
prepared to leave their estates to their eldest child regardless of
gender, and that more wish to make some provision for their younger
There is a proposal being considered by the Government that
Prince William's first child with Kate Middleton would become his
heir, regardless of gender. If this is a move away from
primogeniture - where the eldest son inherits - then the Royal
Family will reflect what is already happening throughout the
Many large estates have become complex and diverse businesses,
and the survey found that the issue of succession planning was a
very real one for many families. Almost half of those surveyed felt
that it was important to consider the ability of the designated
heir as well as issues of fairness and equality amongst their
Parents appreciated the difficulty of weighing up the differing
merits of the children against the needs of the business.
This is a sensitive area and whilst 61% of those surveyed wanted
their estates to remain in the family - and 71% had gone so far as
to identify an heir - very few had plans in place to develop their
heir and their ability to run the business.
The same principles and concerns apply to many farming families
or owner-managed businesses in the South West. Parents want
to ensure the continuing success of the business, as well as to
provide for all their children. These two aims need not be
mutually exclusive, provided the family thinks ahead to likely
Take the case of a typical farmer who has three children: one of
the children farms with him, the second child is married to a
neighbouring farmer's son, and the youngest daughter has a
successful career in London. The farmer does not want to
overburden the farm by making his son buy his daughters out, but
does not want to be unfair to his two daughters either. There
are a few options he could consider; it might be possible to carve
out certain assets to leave to the daughters - perhaps a field with
hope value or a barn with potential for development.
The farmer could also help during his lifetime, using
gifts - perhaps a cottage - or putting life insurance or
another investment in place to pay out to the daughters on his
death, but this takes foresight and long-term planning.
There are any number of options which might suit the differing
needs of each individual family. There is only one certainty, and
that is that dying without a Will in place is not effective
planning, as the Law which then applies is very inflexible and can
be difficult to adapt.
Ashfords' Trusts and Estates Team can assist on any matters
regarding a Will or Trust. For taxation and estate planning advice
please contact Michael Alden at the Exeter office on 01392 334041,
Sue Savill at the Taunton office on 01823 232313 or Rachael Crocker
at the Tiverton office on 01884 203088.
Sue Savill heads up Ashfords' Trusts and Estates Team in
their Taunton office. Sue advises on wills, powers of attorney and
estate planning, including tax mitigation and the administration of
estates. She has a particular interest in advising parents or
carers of children with special needs, and is a member of
Solicitors for the Elderly.
Ashfords LLP is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation
Authority. The information in this note is intended to be
general information about English law only and not
comprehensive. It is not to be relied on as legal advice nor
as an alternative to taking professional advice relating to
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