I attended the recent Teagasc event on farm transfer in Portlaoise, where the audience comprised a lot of women and a few obvious parent/child pairs - but no elderly people. The other thing I noticed was a sense of calmness.
So what does that all mean? I am no expert but…
In the case of the elderly, it could be that they all have their affairs in proper order… though it's also possible they have put them off for so long that it's not now going to happen.
In terms of the women, I would say this is because they are often the ones who push to have such stuff sorted.
As for the pairs, the transferor and transferee are working together on the transfer. This was good to see; it is as it should be.
The key to a smooth, working and desired transfer is communication.
The other salient point is that the view of inheriting a farm is changing. It is no longer seen as the keys to the kingdom of unbounded wealth (which it never was anyway) but simply an opportunity to make a living.
Indeed, in many instances, it is the off-farm income of a spouse that determines the level of education that children attain.
Many of those who grew up on farms, got educated and have secured a good job are now declining the opportunity to farm.
Like any job, if it's for you, farming is a good life, though not an easy one; but so many lives have been wasted because a farm was taken on through a sense of duty.
About 150 people attended the event and Teagasc's Fintan Phelan pointed out that they are already on the right road to making good decisions (hence the calmness?).
His advice is to "talk early," and "canvass lots of different opinions".
Every situation is unique and some situations can be tricky, but there may be solutions that people don't know about until they actively investigate them.
You make better decisions when you're better informed.
"Farmers face different problems every year but the one thing that faces every single farmer is passing on the farm," said Fintan. "The only way around it is to do nothing, (let whoever comes behind to sort it out) - and that is never ideal".
There are, for example, circumstances when it makes most sense not to transfer land until after someone dies, but you won't know that unless you look into it.
"You can plan for lifetime transfer but can't plan for those that occur in death."
Know what you want to do, find out what the implications are (in terms of tax and otherwise), then take it from there. Wise words!