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Farms / inheritance / family - long, sorry.

(5 Posts)
aweewhilelonger Tue 21-Mar-17 12:51:12

I'll try to keep this short!

My dad and his sister grew up on a family farm. My aunt - as the oldest - married a farmer, and was basically given the farm, while my dad went to college, got a job and made his way on his own.

My gran, who owned the farm, split ownership of the farmland and buildings between her children and herself, 1/3 each. When she died, my dad and his sister inherited half of that share each. So they now own half each.

My aunt currently lives alone in the farmhouse. She had three children, two of whom have gone into farming. One of these, my female cousin, has three children as well, the youngest of whom is a boy.

My aunt is ailing, and will eventually need to move on from the farmhouse, either to live with my cousin or into a home. My cousin has said that she expects her son and his girlfriend to eventually move into the farmhouse, have it done up, and live on the farm.

But it's not her farm to decide what to do with, nor is it her mother's: half of it belongs to my father. I know it's normal for farmers to set their children up for life on land / in houses where they can, it's certainly been the expectation for two+ generations on that side. My father, for an easy life and in recognition that his sister was struggling financially (my uncle was an alcoholic and not a particularly successful farmer), never asked for rent or any kind of income from the farm over the 40+ years since my gran gifted 1/3 to each of them, or since my gran's death 20 years ago.

I guess my question is whether my aunt / cousin have any right to just move her younger son into the property? Does their long standing connection with the place allow them to trump my dad's ownership of half the farm? This is still quite theoretical, as my aunt is still living in the farmhouse and my cousin's son is only 17 at the moment... but in 5-6 years it's entirely possible that they will want to follow through with that.

My dad is on the fence. He personally is financially comfortable in his own right and doesn't need an income from the land, but it was his childhood home. I'll be totally honest and say that I am projecting forward to the time when my sister and I will likely inherit the land, and wondering what rights we'd have to decide what happens to it if my cousin's son has been living there rent free for umpteen years by that point. Sounds grabby, I know, but it sticks in my craw to see my aunt's side of the family acting as if they fully own something that they don't, and excluding my dad from decisions about the and and farm that were his childhood home as well.

This is all in Scotland btw.

whataboutbob Tue 21-Mar-17 13:19:23

All I know from farming I know form the Archers...But I would say you are not unreasonable or grabby, people do think about inheritance and you shouldn't be shamed into having to say or act as if you don't care.
Maybe a visit to the Citizen's advice bureau would help? You could go to a solicitor but of course be very careful about getting into an expensive legal battle with your cousins. Good luck.

aweewhilelonger Tue 21-Mar-17 13:35:26

Ah thank you for saying that. There is a lot of history that I haven't included to keep the OP short.

Long story short though, there is a large, valuable asset there that is jointly owned, but which one party is acting as if they owned outright. I guess my query is whether, by not contesting my aunt (and eventually my cousin's son) living there rent free all those years, my dad (and then I) would be setting some kind of precedent which gives my aunt's side more rights that my dad's.

There is a solicitor who has been associated with the farm for donkey's years, and is actually my parent's solicitor as well as my aunts. So he is very aware of the legal situation - but only gets involved insofar as he is instructed to by either party.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 21-Mar-17 17:11:01

I am from a long standing farming family. You need specialist independent legal advice about this, there will be firms of solicitors in Scotland who are well versed in this situation as it is startlingly common.

averythinline Tue 21-Mar-17 17:16:51

I would suggest you go to different specialist solicitors...Than the one that knows the family ... An outsider view can be more straightforward as can look at what is actually the law...Rather than the personalities....And do it in conjunction with your dad in some shape or form as he is going to have to do something re the situation i would guess....But may need assistance in getting to it ....

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