“My father recently passed away and left the land under his will equally to all his children. While none of us want to farm the land in our own right, already there is tension rising as to what to do with the land – who to rent it to, for how long, how much etc. I am afraid that it will be impossible for us all to reach agreement and that it could lead to a family falling-out. While we all want to keep the land at present, what would happen if one of us wanted to cash in on our share?”

This is an issue which affects a lot of farm families. The two most common types of co-ownership of land are joint tenancies and tenancies in common. Spouses/civil partners often hold property as joint tenants, whereas the usual method of ownership of land between siblings is as tenants in common. The use of the word “equally” (words of severance) would indicate that the property was left to you and your siblings as tenants in common. The importance of identifying how the property is held relates essentially to survivorship – how each of your respective shares in the land can be passed on to the next generation. In the case of a joint tenancy, the surviving co-owner/co-owners automatically inherit the share of the co-owner that dies. In the case of a tenancy in common, the co-owner that dies can leave their share to another person under their will or their next of kin on intestacy.