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Are we BU to BIL/SIL?

(134 Posts)
iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 22:15:14

My DH and his DB jointly took over the family farm when FIL retired.

DH and BIL (DH's DB) have always worked the farm, but when FIL retired he signed it over to them, and they originally split the work 50/50. PIL, DH and BIL reach receive 1/3 of the income of the from the farm (and when PIL pass away, this will increase to 1/2 each).

SIL has health problems, which she has had for a long-time, but has progressed more rapidly over the last 2 years. They have 6 children. Over that time BIL has had to spend more time looking after the children and his wife, which has meant my DH taking over more and more of the work.

This has progressed to the point that it really has become too much for DH to do on his own (we have 1 permanent farm worker and get in another seasonal one). He has been really exhausted last 6 months or so, but it has all been getting on top of him over the last month. He is tired all the time, has no energy to do things with me or the children and so on. BIL now only works sporadically, and frequently has to cancel even when he has agreed to help.

While we totally understand that this isn't anyones fault, and it's not because he doesn't want to work, that doesn't change the impact it is having on DH, and also upon our family life.

We had a long chat about it a few weeks ago, and agreed things can't go on as they are. DH suggested to his DB that we employ another farmworker- FIL thinks this is a good solution, and thought that DB should pay slightly more towards the cost than the rest by slightly reducing the amount he takes out in income. We put this to DB- he flatly refused. We then said we would just share the cost between us all, and all take a little less. DB said no, they couldn't afford to this and if we wanted to take on extra help, we can pay for it. He has also been asking if we can cut expenditure to take more profit out of the business. It can't be done without cutting corners, which DH doesn't want to do and FIL thinks would be foolish.

I am really cross about it- his situation and inability to contribute to the work of the farm is why they need to take on the extra help. It's not his fault, but he is getting an income without actually doing work. DH is really hurt that his DB doesn't seem to care about the impact the situation is having on us.

DH thought it might be a better idea if we bought out BIL share in the farm- that way he'd have cash which he could invest etc and use that to have an income, and DH could run the business the way he wants to. DB has refused this too.

DH and I think the best solution may be either for BIL to buy us out, and we can set up elsewhere or that they sell the farm and we each take our share.

PIL are really upset by this, and FIL in particular feels like he's failed as the farm has been in the family for generations.

BIL says we are trying to punish him for not working, and feels we don't care about him and his family.

I know it would be far better from his point of view if we all just carried on as we are, but from our point of view this is untenable. If it would be for a set period of time (i.e. a few months or a year or so), then it might be different- they are family and we do want to help, but it is not a situation that is going to improve in the forsee-able future. I am not prepared to help out to the extent that it affects my husband's welfare and our family.

His lack of flexibility suggests to me that even if we get over this, sooner or later another problem will raise it's head (e.g. him pushing for cost cutting measures), and perhaps it would be better in the longer term if we went our separate ways. Initially there would be bruised feelings, but I think it's better than long term resentment.

Are we BU to try to force through a change?

IAmNotAMindReader Sat 31-May-14 22:21:22

Your BIL is in a difficult situation with regards his wife and family but if allowed his own way he will drain the place till it is unsustainable. You however are also in a difficult situation and have bent as far as you can without breaking
Forcing a buyout is really the only option, it will cause a rift but if your livelihood is to survive it must be done.
BIL could then coast a while but it would force him into looking into a more permanent solution for his family, which needs doing anyway as his way would see you both out on your ears and looking for work and you can then not feel forced into compromises you really can't afford to make.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Sat 31-May-14 22:21:52

It sounds like BIL and dh have fundamentally different attitudes to the business. I think you're right that you need to go your own ways one way or the other.

BIL is being incredibly unreasonable to expect dh to carry on as he is or foot the bill for a worker. There aren't many situations where a self employed person can be off work and still get paid. It's awful that SIL is ill, but you've all bent over backwards to keep things going, and if dh carries on he will get sick and the farm will go under.

Letting go of the family farm would be heartbreaking though sad

There's no easy answer. But you cannot go on as you are.

allibaba Sat 31-May-14 22:27:15

No OP YANBU and, I think given how long this has been going on for you've been very sensitive in your approach to this.

Is there any chance of SIL getting any better or will she always be this ill? What sort of farm do you have? Could you get in a seasonal worker or a Agri student for the summer to tie you over? At least then you get help in the sort term without having to over commit.

Verynearlytea Sat 31-May-14 22:30:17

As DH and FIL hold majority share they should just go ahead and hire the extra worker and adjust BILs share accordingly. If he doesn't like it you have given him a plan B (you buy him out) and a plan C (he buys you out).

Not a great situation for any of you but instead of suggesting/asking BIL, DH and FIL should be telling him 'we voted and this is how it is going to be' but maybe put a little nicer.

WestmorlandSausage Sat 31-May-14 22:30:52

I think your best solution would be to take professional advice from a independent farm advisor. Any decisions made within the family are going to cause ill-feeling.

I'm assuming that as three families are managing to live off the farm business you must be running a fairly large unit.

How is profit paid out of the business? Is it a monthly salary, or do parties just withdraw from the business account as they wish within agreed limits?

I think a lot of people outside of the business don't get the emotional attachments there are with farming, it isn't quite just as simple as buying someone out is it sad

iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 22:32:56

Thank you. I think we both know this, but it's not easy to see my DH and PIL so upset- it really would be a wrench to sell up.

It would be easier if BIL would just let us by him out. I don't see why he won't- it's not like he can run the farm by himself. I suppose it might be pride, but I just don't understand why he can't see that something has to give and he can't just keep taking out while putting nothing in. SIL is of the opinion that we don't understand how hard everything is for them. I haven't ever been in their position, so I suppose I can't really know what it's like- but I imagine it is very hard going. Doesn't change the fact that it is now having an impact on my DH, and the situation is untenable.

iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 22:41:39


We do have a large mixed-arable farm with sheep on the high pasture. It is a fairly large unit (was 2 farms until DHs grandparents time) and as things stand the business is making a fair profit. We can afford another full time worker without causing any financial difficulty.

We each take a monthly salary, with any extra profit put back into the business. I don't work on the farm (I'm a doctor).

I think you are right- getting independent advice is the best way to go. Don't know why we didn't think of it ourselves! I think we can't see the wood for the trees at the moment.

Ludoole Sat 31-May-14 22:46:40

My dp part owns a business with a person who does very little.
This has resulted in my dp working ridiculous hours 7 days a week. He has in the last few years been diagnosed with diabetes and an auto immune illness and yet still continues to take up the slack.
Its awful watching someone being run into the ground (--even though we have had numerous arguements as hes a bloody pushover--hmm)

WestmorlandSausage Sat 31-May-14 22:56:38

They can look at it from a non emotional point of view, that is what is needed in a high emotion situation.

Was there any succession planning when FIL stepped back from the business? If your family and BILS have children is the tree of ownership going to continue to grow? All stuff that needs to be discussed.

Best thing we did was to get independent advice... it wasn't pleasant at first and some hard home truths, but the family members involved have taken the advice on board and things are moving forward.

Kafri Sat 31-May-14 22:58:39

If your BIL were an employee of a company he wouldn't be able to take the mick with working hours albeit a genuine reason.
Personally I would be loathed to lose my family business over it. Can DH and FIL not come together and talk to BIL about the reality of it all. Basically that he finds some way to pull his weight (either himself or employing someone) or he ships out.

Inertia Sat 31-May-14 23:12:09

How easy would it be to split back into two farms? Your BIL and DH could take charge of half the farm each, and pay 1/3 of the farm income to PIL, which would keep the proportions the same. This would give BIL complete autonomy over his part of the farm.

The idea to take on extra help and share the cost is entirely reasonable- it's awful that your BIL and SIL are in this position, but it's not fair that your DH becomes ill himself to keep their family going.

Would another possibility be for you all to share the cost of a carer so that BIL can work on the farm? Or could PIL offer caring support so that BIL can work on the farm?

DollyWosits Sat 31-May-14 23:13:32

What a difficult situation.

Obviously WestmoorLands advice to get an independent advisor in is the way to go, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was still hard to reach a practical compromise.

Is there any way to split the farm? Or, at least, divide up areas of responsibility.

Have you actually had a proper meeting with everyone concerned where you have all had a proper opportunity to discuss everything?

Do you keep tangible records of who does what? Is it possible your DBIL doesn't realise how much work your DH is doing? Perhaps you could keep a detailed time sheet for a few weeks.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sat 31-May-14 23:30:50

I think your dh needs to go and see his GP to get his health checked over.

Your BIL needs to realise that if your dh collapses with the strain of it then he really will be in trouble. And from the sounds of it I would say that that collapse is not far off.

iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 23:30:56


We have had a proper discussion- or at least it started out as one, but became quite heated towards the end. There isn't really a need for timesheets- BIL knows he rarely does any work on the farm- he'll do nothing for weeks on end if SIL is not well.

We could look at splitting it, but the way the land is worked and set aside at present, it may be difficult to do fairly and may effect the overall profitability, which in turn impact on the sustainability of the business as a whole. I don't think it's the best option- I suspect (leaving emotions aside) we'd be far better off financially forcing a buy-out or total sale.

iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 23:39:56

What also worries me is that if there are problems now, I can see real problems arising when FIL is no longer with us (not that I think this is imminent) and there is just the 2 of them running it all. I think there will be major disagreements, with no "adjudicator" in the form of FIL.

FIL does help out and is practically working full-time at the minute. He is in good health, so is ok for short periods. I want him to enjoy his retirement while he is fit enough to do so (although he seems to want to be back at work rather than rest!).

As I said, we will need to get independent advice. I am just very frustrated with BIL/SIL- I feel they've taken advantage and aren't being realistic.

WipsGlitter Sat 31-May-14 23:45:26

What is the nature of the health problem? Could they get/pay for a carer?

DrizzlyTuesday Sat 31-May-14 23:51:55

BIL is being completely unreasonable forcing your DH into an unsustainable situation.

WestmorlandSausage Sat 31-May-14 23:52:18

in my experience important discussions within a family need a mediator. With farming that is even more important as it isn't just about business, faming families often live where they work, and have complex historic relationships with the land/ animals that they farm.

It often isn't 'just' land, that can be sold off in some compartmentalised fashion. As the OP suggests there will be a plan of how land is used that goes beyond the here and now, and even if that wasn't the case it doesn't sound like BIL is in a position to farm right now any way.

My other suggestion OP is that outside support is offered to your BIL's family. It sounds like he has a huge caring responsibility. Rather than the money being spent to employ a farm worker could it be considered that a personal assistant could be hired for SIL? Social Services or RABI would be able to support with this, definitely in practical terms and possibly financially. This could give BIL back the time to do at least part of his share of the farming, thus reducing the need to chuck him out of the partnership or reduce his share as much?

WestmorlandSausage Sat 31-May-14 23:54:18


There is no such thing as a retired farmer.

And you are right, a proper legal agreement needs to be put in place right now regarding the future management of the partnership. Again, this is best done by a professional farm advisor.

iamsoannoyed Sat 31-May-14 23:55:04

She has MS. They do get some help in terms of care and house has been adapted.

I have no idea if they could afford additional care as I don't really know how they spend their income.

iamsoannoyed Sun 01-Jun-14 00:03:16


You are right- MIL says he's like a lost sheep when he's not working. Doesn't know what to do with himself! She says it better when he's not under her feet. Oh well, as long as they are both content and able, it's up to them how they spend their time.

Your idea of a carer is another good suggestion and I will look into it. I suspect that full-time carers/assistant would cost more than the farm worker though. I know from work that the kind of care (and not forgetting the fact that extra childcare would be needed too) is very expensive, but I think we have to look at all the options to make the best decision for everyone.

WestmorlandSausage Sun 01-Jun-14 00:22:11

thats why I said personal assistant rather than carer.

The local authority can assess taking into account childcare needs. and respite needs for BIL They will allocate a personal budget (which BIL and SIL may have to contribute towards depending on their income, but no more than they can afford) they can choose to have this budget as a direct payment. They can use this direct payment to employ someone to be a personal assistant to SIL. This can be anyone who doesn't already live with her so could be a friend, a relative etc. The budget can be used to meet whatever her assessed needs are, including meeting her needs as a parent with a disability.

RABI can also be very helpful but are better with equipment/ respite rather than care.

YANBU, why should your family unit suffer and your DH work himself into the ground. While it is not either your BIL or SIL's fault they are in this situation it is not fair of them to let it have such a negative impact upon you. Quite simply it is not your DH's responsibility to cover for his brother indefinitely.

How do you think BIL would respond if FIL gave him an ultimatum? Either hire some extra help for the farm or make alternative arrangements for home i.e SIL and DC's care. I would put the point to him what would he do if he wasn't self employed with family to help, would he quit work? Hire a nanny a nurse? ect.

He needs to be forced to consider the long term and be made to understand the current situation is not sustainable.

This situation will not get better, I think if you don't make a stand now your DH will be looking after the place solo permanently.

wafflyversatile Sun 01-Jun-14 01:06:42

I agree that you should get outside advice.

However between your DH and FIL they have 2/3 of the farm and can surely outvote your BIL? Although I appreciate this could cause a lot of ill feeling.

MS isn't going to get better so something in place while your FIL is still around would be good. Does MIL still own a 1/3 if FIL dies?

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