Farm Succession Planning: How to start the conversation?

Peelwood/Limerick/Tuena Landcare Group are hosting a free Successional Planning evening on 6 February 2015 at Tuena Hall from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. The guest speaker, Mr Richard Moffitt from Next Rural has expertise in topics such as Estate Planning, Wealth Creation and Retention, Business Strategic Planning, Business and personal structure and much more. A light supper will be served so please RSVP to Judy Isaac on (02) 4834 6016 or Narelle Bulmer on (02) 4834 6047 or


The need for Farm Succession Planning has become a major issue for primary industry as ‘traditional inheritance norms and practices’ become less suitable for today. In addition to passing on the farm, the older generation usually also has to provide for both retirement and an inheritance for other children.


Succession planning is about what is done five, 10, 20, 30 years before families move assets from one generation to another or even between generations, so it can be done in way that builds long-term trust. The alternative can lead to unspoken expectations or informal promises in relation to the future of the family farm, only to be dashed when external circumstances, such as droughts, global financial crisis, commodity prices and so on, bring the matter to a head. Ultimately, a lack of or poor successional planning can undermine the family farm’s viability; whereas good communication can actually lead to a creative and strategic structure that boosts farm profitability.


A succession plan can cover key scenarios, such as: What happens if you make a lot of money? What happens if you make losses? Who bears the pain? What happens if somebody wants to leave the business, wants to separate? Can they take their equity out? How do they get out? What happens with divorce, or a partnership breakdown? Or it could be the parents. What happens if somebody wants to retire early or late? What happens for aged care? And the last one, of course, what happens if any one of the family members die?


Successional planning can be a complex and confronting process, but it doesn't need to be divisive. Getting started is often one of the biggest hurdles as taking the first step towards succession planning is viewed by many as the most difficult and delicate. However, succession planning is often so much more than the balance sheet – Communication, and how to facilitate communication without emotion or conflict is also really important.