Copyright Moore Barlow LLP (Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins merged May 2020)

Agricultural Estate Planning Archers Style – How NOT to do it!

Here at Moore Blatch, we love wealth protection – so it always raises a smile when others are equally fascinated by the topics we adore. Thanks to Radio 4’s The Archers, it seems the whole country will be riveted by such issues for a few weeks to come.

The stability of Bridge Farm is where the recent fascination with estate planning can be considered to have begun. The arrival of Natasha as Tom’s girlfriend and then wife, has certainly shaken things up.
However, given the pace with which the relationship progressed, will the marriage last? Pat seems to have realised the potential difficulties, not least given Natasha’s disappearance for a few weeks after the wedding. Added to that was the emotional impact even suggesting a post-nuptial agreement (or a pre-nuptial agreement) can have, with Tom in particular initially taking offence before eventually relenting. That said, the storyline has gone quiet for a few weeks now. Are there more twists and turns to come? Or has the important protection issue been forgotten?

Natasha’s arrival in Tom’s life has had another impact in the way she has allowed Tom to progress his ideas for Bridge-Fresh. On this face of it, this great news. However, the doom-mongers amongst us can only be worried. Given that Bridge-Fresh has been set up as a separate commercial entity with only Tom and Natasha as shareholders, Bridge-Fresh’s success is double-edged. Bridge Fresh’s success means that an essential part of Bridge Farm’s future is as a separate commercial entity. Such steps can be sensible both for present-day commercial reasons and in terms of estate planning, but real care must be taken when setting up such structures. One can’t help but worry for Tony and Pat and the future of Bridge Farm when Bridge Fresh has been put in place with seemingly little thought, and with the ever-indebted Natasha as a partner.

Time will tell how this story pans out, but the future doesn’t look good. More importantly, it may well end up highlighting the significant problems that can arise when estate planning isn’t fully thought through. The Archers’ wealth has existed for generations (admittedly with some ups and downs), but will it continue?

More widely, Ambridge is buzzing with news of Peggy’s Ambridge Conservation Trust, not least due to the £500,000 on offer for the winning proposal. No one can doubt Peggy’s good intentions in setting up a charitable trust to enhance the environment for future generations, and we have heard of her team of advisors that have helped set up the trust. But, here too, concerns abound. Was it a good idea for irrepressible Lillian to be appointed CEO during a party when in drink and seemingly unable to say no to her mother? Additionally, Adam’s private discussions with Lilian about his bid could mean further trouble is in store.

Trusts can be incredibly useful tools for wealth protection, but one can sense that the charitable trust is set for trouble, not least given the way its terms have been altered so anyone in Ambridge can apply! As with Estate Planning, taking sound advice before setting up a trust can mitigate against future issues arising. If only Peggy had come to Moore Blatch first for advice!

Now, there’s just the need to speak to our Regulatory team about assistance for Ed Grundy with his questionable fertiliser issues and our Family team about the burgeoning relationship between Jill and Leonard!

They may make for good drama, but the issues being highlighted in The Archers are very real, effecting agricultural estates and businesses throughout the UK. We at Moore Blatch have specialists in estate planning (agricultural or otherwise), tax, and wealth management generally. Don’t get yourself into the difficulties the Archers are setting up for themselves – we’re ready and willing to help.


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