Step Six

provide regular updates and clear information.

» Keep all family members informed.

» Make sure the succeeding child understands the business.

» Keep the information clear and direct.

» Provide opportunities for input.

» Make definite and unambiguous decisions.

While some of the outputs from the team’s discussions will be potentially upsetting, the issues need to be worked through by all family members.All family members need to be kept informed of the progress of the succession project and given chances to respond.

It is very advisable to get the farm accountant to provide the last 10 year’s farm accounts to an independent accountant who can help the succeeding child assess the viability of the business they are taking on.

The parents, succeeding child and advisors are likely to be close to the farm and to the project, whereas non-succeeding children might be living in other places.Giving non-succeeding children as much information and certainty as possible about the progress of the succession plan and how they will be treated is vital.

While sons-in-law and daughters-in-law can bring a fresh perspective they may not fully appreciate the unique nature of family farm succession, the history of the farm in question and the family expectations and emotions tied up with the property.In some cases it might be necessary to ask the children’s partners to maintain distance from the discussions.

When emotion threatens to overwhelm family succession and break down the lines of communication, the Advisor’s role is to open up communication channels again.They should be able to develop a process that puts the emotions into perspective, and continually refocuses everyone on the need to deliver an outcome.This might require them to continue meeting members of the family separately.As long as these conversations provide accurate information and bring in each family member’s perspective and aspirations, constructive progress should follow.

Either way, a good structure and clearly articulated expectations will help to smooth the process.So long as the communication is clear, the strain on family relationships will minimized and the transition will become easier.