aspects of land
| spring / summer 2017
t is easy to equate succession planning with wills.
But a will should merely be the final formality in an
ongoing planning and management process – the
culmination of pre-agreed plans, with no nasty surprises,
no sources for dispute and no reason why the wealth
passed on should not continue to flourish.
Of course, life (or death) is not always so simple: all too
often, where there’s a will there’s a way to contest it and
a potential conflict ready to explode.This is particularly
true of rural estates, in which numerous family members
might have an interest.
However, it doesn’t have to be like that. If there is a
culture of communication and transparency, then a will is
merely expressing what has already been agreed.
It is a straightforward idea, but it requires forethought,
management and, above all, trust and openness.
“Families who think they are great at running a
business are often shocking at managing their own
relations,” says Clive Beer, head of Savills Rural
Professional Services. “Then when the time comes for the
family’s wealth to be passed on, the real legacy is one of
conflict, misunderstanding and resentment.”
Roy Williams and Vic Preisser, authors of the book
, studied more than 3,250 families who
transferred wealth over 20 years.Their research showed
that 70 per cent of inter-generational wealth transfers
result in a loss of assets and family discord.
So why do they go so wrong? According to Williams
and Preisser, just 3 per cent of failed successions were
due to poor financial planning, tax and investments.
The vast majority, at 60 per cent were due to a lack of
communication and trust, while 25 per cent failed because
the heirs were not prepared for the responsibilities and
expectations that come with wealth.
Effective wealth succession therefore relies on good
family governance: establishing shared values, aims and
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
You could spend your life working hard to create a successful estate, but without putting
a similar effort into your succession planning, all that hard work could come to nothing