GRHRecent decisions in the Supreme Court have reinforced the Courts preference for keeping family operated farms together in certain situations in circumstances where a Will is contested.

A recent case involving a grazing property near Wagga Wagga upheld the deceased’s wishes to keep together a farming operation that had been left to the son at the exclusion of a claim made by a city-based daughter of the deceased. Whilst the daughter had been able to establish need she was ultimately unsuccessful.

When determining need “the court also considers the nature, extent and character of the estate.” The character of the estate in an example of a rural estate with its major asset a working farm is a significant factor that a court will consider.

When considering Provision Claims the Court will assess the needs both present and future of a person of whom makes an application for Family Provision. In the context of rural estates the term “Need” is very much an ambulatory concept.

A deceased testamentary intention to keep a farm together as an integrated economic unit, managed and run by a beneficiary of their choosing is something that a court gives significant weighting to.

Arguments about fairness between children of the deceased can be overtaken by a clearly expressed intention of the deceased. The position of the Supreme Court is that it has no mandate to simply “ride roughshod over the testator’s intentions”

When considering breaking up a rural estate a Court will look to whether or not the viability of the farm is dependent upon it operating as an integrated whole and if the deceased’s intention to keep the farm together was made clear.

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court only stand to emphasise the need to have a clearly defined succession plan in place. At Everingham Solomons we can assist with such planning because Helping You is Our Business.

Click here for more information on George Hoddle.